The charge of evading police is an extremely serious charge with the Queensland Government enacting some of the toughest legislation in the country. The government have shown a continued desire to see people jailed for evading the police, recent charges to the legislation have caused more confusion as to what exactly the punishment for the offence should be.
What is evading police?
Section 754 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 provides that to be charged with evading police the driver of a motor vehicle must have failed stop the motor vehicle as soon as reasonably practicable after a police officer has directed them and a reasonable person would have stopped the motor vehicle in the circumstances.
Generally the offence would occur when a police officer in a police vehicle attempts to stop a driver who fails to do so within a reasonable time and thus evades police.
What is the punishment for evading police?
This is not as easy a question to answer as it should be. When the legislation was first drafted it provided the penalty as;
Minimum penalty—50 penalty units.
Maximum penalty—200 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment
This meant that the court had to impose either a fine of $5,000 (a penalty unit was then $100) or a term of imprisonment. In the case of Commissioner of Police Service (Qld) v Magistrate Spencer & Ors  QSC the court found that they could impose probation and no fine meaning the accused would not have to pay the $5,000 and apart from complying with the probation terms would not have to serve time in jail.
After this case the Government changed the law so the penalty was then;
Minimum penalty— 50 penalty units or 50 days imprisonment served wholly in a corrective services facility.
Maximum penalty—200 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment.
On the face of it the law would seem to require the court to impose a fine of $5,500 (the penalty unit has increased since the law was changed to $110) or to impose 50 days imprisonment which must be served in a jail.
Cases decided since the change have found that the change in law still does not prevent the court from imposing probation or community service rather than actual jail or a fine of $5,500, however that interpretation is under review from a number of Magstrates.
It is certain that this area of law will continue to evolve as further cases are decided or the Government amends the legislation further but as it currently stands the court can either impose a fine of at least $5,500 or may be able to impose community service or probation rather than requiring people to serve time in jail. Of course in the right circumstances the court may choose not to impose probation and instead send the driver to jail for 50 days.
The law also provides a minimum drivers licence disqualification of 2 years and unfortunately the court cannot grant a work licence or hardship licence.
Evading police is also classed as a type 1 hooning charge which can have quite severe consequences. For the first Type 1 offence, the vehicle can be impounded or immobilised for 90 days. For the second offence the vehicle can be impounded and may be confiscated at the end of any legal proceedings against you,
Are there any defences to the charge of evading police?
Some possible defences might be that;
- the driver stopped the vehicle as soon as practical
- a reasonable person would not have stopped the vehicle in the circumstances
- the police officer was not in a police vehicle at the time of the direction to stop
- someone else was driving the vehicle
- the direction to stop was not given clearly and the driver did not realise they were directed to stop
This is very complicated area of law and you will need legal advice to determine if you have any defences.
I’ve received an evasion notice because my car was invoiced in a police chase
If the police are unable to intercept the vehicle then they may choose to serve an evasion offence notice on the registered owner of the motor vehicle. If that occurs the owner of the motor vehicle has 4 business days to give a declaration to the police otherwise they will be deemed to be the driver of the vehicle involved in the evasion offence.
It is critical to respond to the evasion notice within the time limits and to get legal advice about that declaration.
How do I get more information or engage you to act for me?
If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;
- Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
- Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
- Visit our main evading police website page
This article is written by Steven Brough one of Queensland’s most experienced traffic lawyers and contains general advice only not legal advice. The law or legal interpretation of the law may have changed since this article was written.