MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Mobile County has seen many police chases over the last few months prompting lawmakers to enforce harsher punishment for those who choose to run from law enforcement.
Mobile County has seen deadly chases such as the one Sunday night where a driver of a speeding car lost control and crashed into a home on Stanton Road, killing him. Other chases have damaged other people’s cars such as the one off Carol Plantation Road where a driver stole a vehicle and hit someone while trying to flee from police.
House Bill 337 would make attempting to elude law enforcement a felony in Alabama. As of now, it is currently a misdemeanor.
State Representative, Ginny Shaver, from District 39 is one of the sponsors of the bill. She says she’s seen many police chases in the state.
“We have a serious problem with attempts to elude in the state,” said Shaver. “And more so I think on border counties in the state, I mean, it’s a problem everywhere.”
She says another problem with the current law is people who cross state lines when attempting to drive away from police are not brought back to Alabama since the crime is only a misdemeanor.
“But we have a lot of incidences of of suspects, crossing state lines thinking that if they make it across the state lines, they’ll get out of their charges,” said Shaver. “And it’s currently a misdemeanor. And so it’s a non extraditable offence.”
The bill, which is attached below, would make the act of attempting to elude law enforcement a Class C felony which is punishable up to 10 years in jail with a $10,000 fine. If a suspect causes serious injury to another person while attempting to flee law enforcement, they would be charged with a Class B felony which is punishable up to 20 years in prison with a $30,000 fine.
Shaver says this isn’t the first time she’s introduced the bill. The legislature has seen this bill before.
“We’ve actually passed this, this bill twice in the house, but just due to time constraints, didn’t get it all the way through the Senate,” said Shaver. “We’ve made it out of committee and Senate, but just ran out of time before getting a vote by the Senate. So I look to do that this session.”
Victims of high-speed police chases are in favor of making the bill into law. The homeowners on Stanton Road who were victim to a police pursuit say this issue needs to be addressed.
“Yes, most definitely,” said Myra Edwards. “Because it happens time and time again, this, this is nothing new to where we have a high-speed chase, and someone done lost their life.”
Representative Shaver wants to ensure public safety, so she hopes passing this bill would help that.
“It’s a public safety issue,” said Shaver. “You know, and I only want the government to do for me what I can’t do for myself, you know, education is up there. But public safety if we’re not safe in public, our other rights suffer. And so it is all about public safety.”
Shaver plans to pass the bill during legislative session in Montgomery which begins March 7.