Proposed Alabama legislation will make fleeing from police a felony

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – Criminals trying to elude law enforcement happen weekly in Alabama, and that poses a danger to the public, which is why some lawmakers say it should come with harsher penalties.

It’s a misdemeanor if someone leads the police on a chase. A proposed bill would change that to a felony. The bill’s sponsor says the goal is more public safety.

Oxford Police Chief Bill Partridge says the Alabama Police Chiefs Association supports the law change.

“There’s a little over 390 law enforcement agencies in the state, so you can imagine out of those how many times that a pursuit’s occured,” said Partridge.

Rep. Rolanda Hollis, D-Jefferson County, was a bystander caught in a chase. She suffers from shoulder pain four years later after her car was hit by a suspect on the run.

“They checked on me and everything, and then he never did catch the guy,” said Hollis.

“If you’re going to flee from police, then you should have to pay that price,” said Partridge. “And that price should be a felony.”

Rep. Ginny Shave, R- DeKalb County, will sponsor the bill to make eluding law enforcement a Class C felony. If the chase results in injury or death, the charge will be a Class B felony

“Whenever a suspect attempts to elude, it just does not have a good result for anybody,” she said.

In the past, similar bills were unsuccessful, but there is hope for the 2023 legislative session due to a renewed focus on public safety.

“Number one thing that we need the government to do is to keep the public safe,” said Shaver.

“The risk that it poses to the public to be a misdemeanor is just wrong and endangers unnecessary lives,” said Partridge.

This could be a priority for House Republicans, and Hollis says it also has her support.

“Hopefully it doesn’t happen to anyone else because like I just said, I’m still suffering,” said Hollis.

When lawmakers meet to debate in March, the goal is that the bill will finally pass through the Senate chamber and go to the governor for signing.

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