Lawmakers to Would-Be Hotshots: Don’t Try to Outrun Police

Members of the state House put in another marathon day of floor debate and final votes on Thursday.  Dan Frizzell has more.

“Having received a constitutional majority, House Bill 1844 is declared passed.” SFX: Gavel

State representatives heard those words quite a few times Thursday as they raced toward a key deadline next week.  Veterans’ issues, mental health and public safety were just a few of the issues on a docket comprising more than three dozen bills. One of the first bills of the day dealt with felony eluding – the legal name for what most people know as ‘trying to outrun a cop.’ To protect the public and police alike, most law enforcement agencies rarely initiate chases anymore when a driver decides to take off, opting instead to let them go for now and arrest them when the dust settles.  But as Representative Mike Sells notes, it’s hard to convict a driver for eluding when no one was actively chasing them.

“If you go to court and you try to get them on eluding, the courts quite often, and juries, interpret it as ‘he wasn’t eluding, because it wasn’t a full-blown chase or the chase was not initiated.’  This bill corrects that.”

Sells, a veteran Democrat from Everett, wrote the bill to make clear that once a driver is aware that he’s being waved over to stop, hot pursuit isn’t required – only a willful attempt to get away.  Statistically, that’s an attempt that is almost never successful because, as Sells points out, it’s hard to outrun a radio. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.