The traffic charge of fleeing and/or attempting to elude police (AEO) occurs fairly often in Maryland. In order to be convicted of this offense, the state has to be able to prove that the individual willfully failed to stop after an officer told them to do so. A Maryland traffic lawyer may be able to contest this element of the charge. The officer, at the time of the charge, must be in uniform, must give them a signal to stop, and must also display his or her badge or something else to indicate that he or she is an official police officer.
Attempting to Elude an Officer
Many times an officer will charge a person with fleeing and/or eluding even though the individual did not see the officer. Sometimes, the individual was not paying attention or the officer did not give a proper signal, such as turning on their lights. In either case, the individual must have willfully and intentionally attempted to elude the police. If convicted, this charge carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail, a fine, and 12 points on the individual’s license.
It is not AEO if a driver exits a highway after seeing a police officer collect their speed, because there has been no indication that an officer is telling them to pullover. They are not intentionally trying to flee from an officer because they have not been given any direction to stop their vehicle.
This is also true if the driver keeps driving in order to find a safe place to pull over, it is only considered AEO if they intentionally try to flee from the police. The driver’s reaction is not to elude the police if they reasonably believe that they need to travel to another area to safely stop their vehicle. Technically, there is no element of intentionally trying to flee because they are not really fleeing, but instead trying to safely pull over at another location.
An officer might pull someone over who is driving at a high rate of speed, recklessly driving, or that has turned off the lights on their vehicle in order to become obscured.
Attempting to elude a police officer is a fairly common charge due to the several interstate highways and various open roads in Maryland. It is easy for an individual to attempt to elude a police officer because there is a lot of space to do so.
Prosecution in Maryland
This charge will be taken seriously because eluding a police officer can create a danger to the safety of others on the road as well as the police officer because may times an individual is traveling at a high rate of speed in order to elude. This places everyone in the surrounding area in danger.
State attorneys in Maryland prosecute in AEO cases. The prosecutor has to be able to prove that the defendant was driving the vehicle, the defendant was given a signal by the police to stop their vehicle, the police officer was in a police uniform and their vehicle could be easily identified as an official police vehicle, and the defendant willfully tried to elude the police officer.
AEO is a serious traffic offense and the driver must appear in court for it. It is serious because it carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail, a fine, and 12 points on your driving record.
How a Lawyer Can Help
There are many defenses to this charge and ways to keep your record clean. For example, an officer in a police vehicle signals for you to stop and you proceed to an area that you reasonably believe is necessary to reach before stopping safely. Your reasonable belief in this instance would act as a defense to the necessary element of willfully trying to elude the officer. In any case, a lawyer may be able to keep the point(s) off of your license and prevent the Motor Vehicle Administration from revoking your license.