Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution in Arizona
Panic is a really bad adviser. It will make you act impulsively and you’ll probably regret the choice you’ve made pretty soon after. Flight from the police because you’ve had a few drinks is such an impulsive decision. The consequences will be serious because unlawful flight is a criminal offense in Arizona.
Arizona Unlawful Flight Laws
Arizona Revised Statutes 28-622.01 defines unlawful flight from the police as the inability to stop in a timely manner when operating a vehicle in response to a police officer signal. Thus, if you do not pull over immediately, you risk being charged with unlawful flight.
The only exception to the rule and the potential consequences is the inability to stop in a safe manner. A driver has the right to reasonably wait in order to reach a safe spot before pulling over. A delay in such situations cannot be considered unlawful flight. This is one of the viable defense scenarios that DUI attorneys could rely on.
Unlawful flight is a criminal offense and a Class 5 felony, even if you’ve committed it for the very first time.
Most often, police pursuit will have to take place for unlawful flight charges to apply. The rule, however, is open to interpretation. If you hesitate before pulling over and you do not react in a timely manner, there’s still some risk of getting charged with the crime. In such instances, an experienced Arizona DUI lawyer will know how to challenge the charge and show that their client was not attempting to evade the law enforcement process.
Penalties for Unlawful Flight
Even if you’re charged with evasion for the very first time, you will still face some serious consequences.
A first-time offender will face Class 5 felony charges. The possible penalties range from probation to up to one year jail time. There could also be a prison sentence ranging from six months to 2.5 years, depending on the aggravating circumstances.
Repeat offenders will face a prison sentence in the range from one to 3.25 years. Those who have multiple repeat offenses could have to spend up to seven years in prison.
Apart from the unlawful flight charges, the DUI charges will still apply if a person is impaired and behind the wheel. The additional sanctions will include license suspension, fines, the installation of an ignition interlock device and even vehicle impoundment.
Other aggravating factors that will lead to more serious penalties include hurting or killing someone while attempting to evade the police or damaging property.
Legal Defense Scenarios
Unlawful flight from the police charges can be challenged by an experienced Arizona DUI attorney.
One of the possible defenses has already been mentioned. A driver has the right to postpone pulling over until they find a safe spot to do so.
Being unaware of the fact that the police is in pursuit is another reason why a driver may refrain from pulling over. A failure to look in the rearview mirror could easily contribute to such a situation. The same applies to playing loud music, making it impossible to hear the siren of the police vehicle.
An attorney could attempt to prove that a vehicle operator believed a police officer was in pursuit of somebody else. Evidence and even witness testimonies may be sufficient to establish such facts.
The prosecution is tasked with proving that a vehicle operator knew police officers were in pursuit and still refused to pull over. This knowledge and the intent could be difficult to establish, which creates favorable circumstances for the defense.
Finally, if all of these elements cannot be established, an attorney may show that the police lacked reasonable suspicion to pull a driver over. The absence of reasonable suspicion could lead to the complete dismissal of the charges.
Click here for more information on unlawful flight from police in Arizona.