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May 3, 2017

New York Penal Code 270.25: Unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree

Everyone knows that sinking feeling when you are driving along and look into your rearview mirror and see those flashing red lights. The law states that when a police officer orders you to pull over, you must pull over. Whether or not the flashing lights are for you, when an emergency vehicle turns on those flashing lights everyone must slow down and pull over. If you continue to drive, you could be in violation of New York Penal Code 270.25: unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree.

Penal Code 270.25 Broken Down
Penal code 270 addresses fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle. The least serious offense is 270.25, which is fleeing in the third degree. This code states that you must stop if directed to do so by either lights or siren. If you attempt to flee by driving in excess of 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit or by driving recklessly (as defined in section 1212 of the vehicle and traffic law) then you have violated Penal Code 270.25.

Violation of this code in the third degree is considered a class A misdemeanor. If convicted you could spend up to one year in jail, be ordered to pay a fine, and you could serve up to 3 years probation.

Example of Unlawful Fleeing a Police Office in a Motor Vehicle in the Third Degree
If someone is driving and speeds past a police officer, chances are the lights and sirens will come on and the police will attempt to pull them over. If they continue to drive and accelerate up to speeds of 25 miles or more per hour over the posted speed limit, or drive recklessly by weaving in and out of traffic or other reckless driving, they are guilty of violating code 270.25. Drivers can still be arrested later even if the police officer abandons the chase because it gets too dangerous, as long as they can identify who the driver was by the license plate or other means.

Potential Defenses Against Code 270.25 Charges
There are basically three aspects to a charge of fleeing in a motor vehicle in the third degree: knowing that there is a police officer trying to pull you over, speed, or reckless driving. If any one of these three aspects is missing, that could be a potential defense. If you didn’t see the flashing lights, you can argue that you didn’t know the police was trying to pull you over. If you do not accelerate to speeds of 25 miles or more above the speed limit, then this charge would not be appropriate. Similarly, if your driving is not considered reckless as defined in section 1212 of the vehicle and traffic law, that could be a defense as well. It is important to consult with a New York criminal defense attorney who is experienced in defending these types of cases to get the best possible defense.

Summary
High speed police chases are extremely dangerous for the police officer and everyone else on the road including pedestrians. Charges of unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree are serious charges and should not be ignored just because this is considered a misdemeanor. If you are convicted you could still face jail time, a fine, probation, or a combination of all three. If you are wrongfully charged with a violation of Penal Code 270.25, hire a good defense attorney to present your case and clear your record.

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