It is an offence in Queensland for a driver of a motor vehicle to fail to stop upon a direction by a police vehicle.The offence is
found in section 754 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 and carries both mandatory minimum penalties and a mandatory licence disqualification period.
The formal wording of the charge is ‘evasion offence’ but it was formerly known as ‘fail to stop’ and is commonly described failing to stop for police.
It is treated as a very serious offence. As such, it is always appropriate to obtain legal representation if charged with an evasion offence.
What do the prosecution have to prove?
For the charge to be made out, the prosecution must prove the following ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’:
- A police officer using a police service motor vehicle provided a driver of another motor vehicle a direction to stop; and
- The driver of the motor vehicle did not stop as soon as reasonably practicable in the circumstances.
For the prosecution to prove that a driver did not stop as soon as reasonably practicable, they must establish that a reasonable person in those circumstances would have stopped the motor vehicle. Where a driver of a motor vehicle takes action to avoid being intercepted, this will usually be sufficient evidence to prove the offence.
It may be a defence to this charge if you can one of the following can be shown:
- The person charged was not in fact the driver of the motor vehicle;
- The driver did stop as soon as reasonably practicable;
- A reasonable person would not have stopped in the circumstances;
- The direction to stop was not given clearly or the driver did not no they were directed to stop;
- The police officer was not in a police vehicle at the time the direction to stop was made.
Further, police may issue the owner of the vehicle in question with an ‘evasion offence notice.’ This notice requires the owner to raise that they were not the driver at the time of the alleged offence. Failing to comply with the notice can result in the Court rejecting any evidence that the owner was not the driver. If you are served with an evasion offence notice, it is important to immediately seek legal advice.
What are the usual penalties?
Evading police carries mandatory minimum penalties. If you are convicted of this offence, generally a Magistrate must impose either a fine of at least 50 penalty units or sentence you to at least 50 days of actual imprisonment. The maximum penalty for this offence is 200 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment.
Despite the wording of the legislation, there has been evolving case law throughout Queensland where, in certain circumstances, a community-based order such as community service or probation has been preferred. However, this approach is currently unsettled in Queensland. For these reasons, it is strongly recommended that you seek immediate legal advice if charged with evading police.
If convicted of evading police, the law provides that your drivers licence must be disqualified for a minimum period of 2 years. There is no scope for the court to grant a work licence or hardship licence if convicted of this offence.
What negotiations can be made?
A common way of resolving an evasion offence is to persuade the prosecution to prefer an alternate charge of stopping vehicles for prescribed purposes found under section 60 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000. Unlike evading police, this alternate charge does not carry mandatory minimum penalties or licence disqualification periods.
If charged with evading police, you should immediately seek legal advice.
What Courts can the offence be heard in?
An offence of evading police must be heard summarily, in the Magistrates Court.