By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek
On April 25th, 2022, Governor Kemp signed legislation to further public safety efforts in the State of Georgia. One of the bills that he signed, which was passed in the House, as well as the Senate, will enhance or increase penalties and sentencing for individuals charged with fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer. This bill will go into effect on July 1st, 2022.
This bill states that:
- It is unlawful for a driver to fail to stop his/her vehicle or attempt to flee or elude a police officer when he/she is given a visual or audible signal to stop.
- Any person convicted of a first, second, or third violation of this law will be guilty of a high and aggravated misdemeanor.
- Any person convicted of a fourth or subsequent violation of this law will be guilty of a felony.
- The penalties for a first conviction will be a fine of at least $1,000 and 30 days in jail.
- The penalties for a second conviction within a 10-year period will be a fine of at least $2,500 and 90 days in jail.
- The penalties for a third conviction within a 10-year period will be a fine of at least $4,000 and 180 days in jail.
- The penalties for a fourth conviction, and any subsequent conviction, within a 10-year period will be a fine of at least $5,000 and 12 months in custody.
This bill will dramatically change the penalties for fleeing and eluding in Georgia. A high and aggravated misdemeanor generally means that the accused will have to serve the entire jail-sentence in custody without the possibility of receiving 2 for 1 credit. The fourth conviction of this crime in a 10-year period will constitute a felony offense. Furthermore, a nolo contendere plea will not avoid mandatory jail time, or a conviction.
Any arrests that occur prior to July 1st, 2022, for fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer will still be pursuant to the prior statute that allows for lower penalties and sentencing. However, if an accused is arrested for fleeing and eluding on, or after, July 1st, 2022, the sentencing will be enhanced pursuant to this new law.
Due to the severity of the punishment for fleeing and eluding based on this new legislation, it is of vital importance to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know every aspect of this new law, we understand the defenses to the charge, we take pride in advocating for our clients’ constitutional rights, and we detail all options for our clients when defending their case. If you or a loved one has been charged with fleeing and eluding, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.