Failing To Stop For Police
Section 754 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 makes it a very serious offence to fail to stop a motor vehicle when required to do so by a Police officer, and says:
- This section applies if, in the exercise of a power under an Act, a police officer using a police service motor vehicle gives the driver of another motor vehicle a direction to stop the motor vehicle the driver is driving.
- The driver of the motor vehicle must stop the motor vehicle as soon as reasonably practicable if a reasonable person would stop the motor vehicle in the circumstances. Minimum penalty:
- if the driver is a participant in a criminal organisation within the meaning of the Criminal Code, section 60A: 100 penalty units or 100 days imprisonment served wholly in a corrective services facility; or
- otherwise: 50 penalty units or 50 days imprisonment served wholly in a corrective services facility.
Maximum penalty: 200 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment.”
An offence against s754 is punished particularly harshly, attracting at least a mandatory fine of $5890 (at the time of this writing) or otherwise a sentence of 50 days imprisonment, all of which must be served inside a jail (or double that if you are a participant in a criminal organisation).
In addition to this mandatory minimum penalty, a mandatory disqualification period of 2 years must be applied to any Queensland driver licence held by a person who is guilty of the offence.
The stiff penalties which apply to this offence mean that if you or a family member has been charged with failing to stop a motor vehicle for Police you must seek out competent legal advice and likely representation, at an early stage.
What Must be Proven
In order for a court to find a person guilty of this offence, the following must be established:
- A police officer gave you, as the driver of a motor vehicle, a direction to stop your vehicle, and
- You did not stop your vehicle as soon as reasonably practicable (if a reasonable person would have stopped in the same circumstances).
Key to any prosecution for an offence against s754 is proof that a direction was actually given (i.e. there was some overt indication from a clearly identifiable Police vehicle to stop) and that the person to whom the direction was given did not stop as soon as reasonably practicable. This means that even if you do ultimately stop your vehicle, you might still be charged if the Police form the view that you did not stop as soon as was reasonably practicable. Simply being charged does not, inevitably, mean that you are guilty of the offence, however.
You might not be guilty of an offence of failing to stop if the direction given by the police was not clearly given. For example, if a plainclothes officer in an unmarked vehicle gives an equivocal hand motion or, as was the case in Williams v the Commissioner of Police, where the police vehicle giving the direction to stop is so far away that a reasonable person would not necessarily understand that the direction was being given to them in particular.
Which Court Will Hear My Matter?
Charges of failing to stop a motor vehicle for Police will be heard and determined in a Magistrates Court.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.
WHERE TO NEXT?
In NSW, traffic offences are treated seriously. Therefore, it is important to get competent legal advice as early as possible, whether you have received a penalty notice, had your licence suspended or been charged with a serious offence. Our lawyers are highly experienced and understand the difficulties you face without a licence. We can guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.