I wrote a couple week back (see here) about how increasingly Draconian punishments for relatively minor – and purely statutory (i.e., involving no harm to others) traffic offenses – for example, a “reckless driving” cite for nothing more than traveling over 80 MPH, or more than 20 MPH faster than any speed limit – are giving drivers an incentive to flee rather than pull over. Why not? On the one hand, there’s the sure thing of a huge fine, a likely mandatory court appearance, possible jail time, almost certain loss of license and guaranteed doubling in cost of your state-mandated extortion (insurance) for the next 3-5 years. . . On the other hand, freedom from all of that – at the risk of doubling down.
I don’t recommend it – but I do understand it.
But, before you think about trying to Bo and Luke ol’ Roscoe P. Coltrane – who has morphed into a PTS’D Officer 82nd Airborne and swapped his never-to-be-fired-in anger six-shooter for a hair-trigger Glock 40 - keep in mind the following:
And, you may stay there for awhile. In most states, “eluding” or “attempting to elude” a cop is at least a major misdemeanor – and can be a felony. In my home state (VA), the very least you’ll be charged with is a Class 2 Misdemeanor, which carries a potential six month stay in Hotel Graybar. They may also charge you with a Class 6 Felony – a serious bust with severe immediate ramifications – not less than 1 year in the clink/$2,500 fine – and daunting lifelong repercussions: You’ll be a convicted felon for the rest of your life and as such, de-barred possession of firearms, among other things.
Also, know yourself – and respect your limits. This sort of thing requires a higher-than-average skill set as a wheelman – and the steady nerves to go with it. If you’re not a very good driver – and very calm under pressure – do not attempt.
Bottom line: Think carefully about making a break for it – and be aware of and prepared for the consequences. It is not something to be done lightly. And if done at all, only do it when the odds are stacked in your favor.
Classic scenario: You’re on the highway, running 80-ish . . . along with everyone else. Even though the speed limit is 70, you know that the 82 you’re running is statutory “reckless driving.” You pass a cop in a cut-out, obviously running radar. You glance in your rearview, see him turn on his lights or some other clue that he’s coming after you. Bad news.
But – the good news – you’re already moving at 80-plus and he is hardly moving at all. You know it will take him at least a critical minute or two to enter the highway from the cut-out and get up to speed – and get behind you. There are lots of other cars he must bob and weave around to reach you, too.
You’ve got “the drop” on the cop. The odds are stacked in your favor.
You’ll be out of his immediate sight for a few precious moments and given that you passed him doing 80-plus while he was stationary, it is extremely unlikely he was able to see more than color, make and model. Certainly not your plate numbers. *
If you’ve got the nerve to do it, this is a scenario that makes sense – insofar as trying to dodge the cop. Rather than slow down and await the inevitable chicken-plucking, you could ramp up your speed. Put distance between you and the cop. Then, take the second exit off the freeway. The cop will assume you took the first one.
So, you take the second one.
Now, disappear. Get off the main roads. Get out of sight. If it’s an urban area, find a large (and full of other cars) parking lot – and park. Then do some shopping. Take a long time. If it’s a rural setting, take the back roads – and make numerous left and right turns. Find a quiet place, one not visible from any major road – and park it. Hunker down. Wait at least a few hours before – very carefully – creeping away from the scene.
And they will be mad.
After a few hours, you can probably risk coming out of hiding. At this point, you have plausible deniability, even if a cop does see you. What, officer? No – that wasn’t me. I’ve been shopping (or whatever – make it up) for the past several hours. You’re mistaken. You’re looking for someone else.
Keep in mind that unless he got your plate – not likely – he can’t know it’s you – and proving it in court would be hard. This assumes, of course, that you aren’t driving a highly recognizable – and highly unusual – vehicle. If you were driving a lisptick red Viper, don’t run – unless you’ve got a friend with an empty semi truck with ramps down and ready to provide you a hidey-hole (and cart your ass out of the county – the state – incognito).
Another option is to call a friend – one of the few times a sail fawn can be genuinely useful – and have him pick you up. Leave the car; pick it up later on – after the heat has died down.
Final thought: If you do get caught, never admit you knew you were being pursued. I had no idea you were back there, officer. This is crucial – because it’s a viable legal defense. Stick to it. Admit nothing – and say nothing, except for that.
Good luck – and be careful.
Throw it in the Woods?
* Be aware that in a growing number of jurisdictions – major urban areas, mostly – cops now have have plate scanners, machines that automatically read/record the license numbers of passing cars. If they have these in your area, forget fleeing. You’re already caught – no matter what you do. Might as well just pull over. Or wait for them to show up at your house.