Washington County prosecutor wants harsher penalties for fleeing by car

February 29, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - A Washington County prosecutor advocated in Annapolis on Wednesday for a new charge and penalties for people who drive dangerously while trying to flee.

Assistant State's Attorney John Dunlap spoke in favor of a bill to include certain dangerous driving as "conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another."

Dangerous driving would be reckless endangerment if it's "to avoid or attempt to avoid being detained by a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of an official duty while the officer is on foot" or "when being pursued on foot by an individual acting in defense of a person or property."

As reckless endangerment, dangerous driving would be a misdemeanor subject to a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of as much as $5,000.


In an interview afterward, he said the only applicable charge now when someone speeds away from a police officer is fleeing and eluding.

Currently, the charge of reckless driving, another option, carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and six points on a license, according to the Department of Legislative Services.

In written testimony, the state public defender's office opposed the bill, calling the clause about acting in someone's defense "overly broad."

Even yelling "from the side of the road" could be a violation, the office wrote.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, is the House sponsor of the bill, which failed in committee last year.

On the Senate side, the bill is sponsored by Sen. James Brochin, D-Baltimore County, and Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr., D-Baltimore County.

ยท To read the bill, go to

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