In South Carolina, regardless of your explanation for it, being charged with failure to stop for a blue light looks bad, and the officer’s anger may only make the situation worse.
“Running from the police” creates images of gangsterish attempts at escape from the law. You need an experienced professional to help you with even a basic violation, if for no other reason than to try to cool the heat of law enforcement anger to reduce your exposure to a harsh penalty.
And you may even have a defense, as we demonstrate below. But this will require an especially skillful and convincing presentation. It needs to come from a respected, professional attorney.
What’s at Risk
The penalties for failure to stop for a blue light are tied to whether anyone got hurt, or worse.
Penalties for Basic Failure to Stop for a Blue Light
For a first offense, where no one suffers severe injury or death, you could face:
- Criminal sentencing. A fine of at least $500 up to whatever amount the judge sets, or a prison term of at least 90 days up to three years.
- Driver’s license suspension at least thirty (30) days. You may be eligible for a restricted license to drive to work and school.
- Repeat offenses. If this is not your first conviction for this offense, you are subject to felony charges. The penalty? Imprisonment for up to five years with license suspension for one year from the date of conviction.
Penalties for Aggravated Failure to Stop for a Blue Light
This is divided into the severity of injuries for the victim:
- Great bodily injury. This is a felony carrying up to 10 years in prison.
- Death. This is a felony carrying up to 25 years in prison.
Both these charges result in license revocation extending three years after the entire sentence is complete, even if you are granted probation or if you don’t even serve a portion of the sentence.
Possible Defenses for this Charge
You may escape conviction or punishment if you can persuade the judge or jury there were good reasons for not stopping when you saw the blue light. The following potential defense arguments may explain why you did not immediately stop:
- There was no safe place to pull over. Maybe it was a dark night on an unlit road with no shoulder. Maybe you saw a well-lit gas station in the distance off the interstate.
- You or a passenger had an emergency. If someone is seriously ill or hurt and you’re headed to the hospital, that could justify waiting.
These are just two examples. Every case is different, and not every possible defense can be predicted. One thing is certain: these serious charges can create ferocious opposition from officers. Even if it’s only a basic violation, you’ve committed the cardinal sin to an officer: you disobeyed his command.
You need an experienced lawyer to mount a defense to explain your delay and reason with the prosecutor who may be pushed by law enforcement to punish you severely. And if the State refuses to negotiate, you need a strong, trained advocate you can trust to present your case to a jury or convince a judge the State asks for too much punishment. For aggravated charges, the penalties are so grave you’ve got to have someone to protect you—someone who will be your voice to win your trial, or artfully negotiate the least harsh penalty possible.
If you’ve been charged with failure to stop for a blue light in Spartanburg, Greenville, or nearby, call us for a free meeting to discuss your defenses and how we can help reduce your exposure to heavy criminal penalties. You can call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841, or feel free to start a live chat or send an email right from this website.