For the umpteenth time — and if we’ve said it once, we’ve certainly said it a hundred times before: once a motorist is being pulled over or even in the process of being stopped for a traffic offense, any thought of fleeing the arresting officer or otherwise leaving the scene is a foolhardy and potentially damaging gesture. Radios have been around for more than one hundred years and no car yet made can outrun a police transceiver. Of course, we say this somewhat in jest, but the fact remains that running from the police can only serve to compound one’s troubles later at the inevitable court hearing.
As New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense attorneys, I and my expert staff of criminal and civil defense lawyers understand the laws of this state and the consequences of flouting those laws. While it’s never a good situation to be charged with driving under the influence of beer or wine, prescription meds or even weed, trying to elude a police officer as a result of a routine traffic stop could most certainly be more trouble than it’s worth.
What prompts us to pass along this information is a news article about a Sussex County motorist who apparently felt it was necessary to flee from Sparta Township police during an early morning police patrol along a stretch of Woodport Rd. According to the news report, the officer in charge observed a vehicle traveling in excess of the local speed limit; the suspect’s Acura was reportedly clocked on radar doing more than 70mph in a 40 zone. The patrolman gave chase, but the driver apparently did not yield and kept driving away.
This particular incident occurred at half-past midnight on a Friday in late June. After watching the driver’s car speeding along Woodport, the officer pursued the vehicle, which did not slow down or show any sign that the driver was willing to obey the police officer’s signals to pull over. Trying to stop the fleeing Acura, the patrolman accelerated in order to following the suspect.
Turning left onto another road, the driver of the fleeing vehicle reportedly ran a stop sign at Stanhope Rd., a couple turns after Woodport. The police report indicated that the driver had gone onto Pine Cone Ln. prior to running the stop sign at Stanhope. After losing visual contact with the suspect’s car for a brief amount of time, the Sparta officer reengaged along a stretch of Stanhope Road.
The officer apparently anticipated the driver’s attempt to further evade arrest, and in doing so turned off of Stanhope onto Cherry Tree where the patrolman discovered the Acura stopped reportedly in the middle of the roadway with its headlights and running lights turned off. Not knowing the condition or mental state of the driver, the pursuing officer apparently called in backup to make what police refer to as a “high risk” vehicle stop.
As a result, a 20-year-old local resident, who was reportedly intoxicated at the time of the arrest, was taken into custody by police. The man was brought to Sparta PD headquarters for processing. He was charged with DWI as well as number of other traffic offenses including eluding a law enforcement officer, reckless driving, failure to obey a stop signal, failure to keep right, and speeding.
It’s important to note, in the context of this entry, that the charge of eluding a police officer is a criminal offense of the third degree. Had the man simply yielded to the officer in the first place back on Woodport, a number of the charges would likely never have been pressed against him. Such is the folly of running from a peace officer, which is why we suggest that cooler heads prevail in such circumstances.
Sparta man tries to outrun police, NJHerald.com, July 04, 2012