Is failure to obey a police officer after a car accident a crime? Washington law provides that a police officer, flagger, or firefighter can regulate traffic. This can happen when a stoplight fails, when an emergency requires traffic to be rerouted, during events, and in construction zones. Failure to abide by a direction or order given by one of these officials regulating traffic is a crime.
46.61.015: Obedience to police officers, flaggers, or firefighters—Penalty.
(1) No person shall willfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any duly authorized flagger or any police officer or firefighter invested by law with authority to direct, control, or regulate traffic.
(2) A violation of this section is a misdemeanor.
When Stopped by a Police Officer or After a Car Accident
- Pull over
- Attempting to elude an officer is a felony and can result in jail time, fines, and revocation of your license
- Obey all commands
- Failure to obey an order given by a police officer is illegal.
- Provide license, registration, insurance, name, address, when requested.
- Police are allowed to request this information when performing a stop for a traffic infraction. Refusal to provide the information, or providing false information, is a crime.
46.61.020: Refusal to give information to or cooperate with officer—Penalty.
- It is unlawful for any person while operating or in charge of any vehicle to refuse when requested by a police officer to give his or her name and address and the name and address of the owner of such vehicle, or for such person to give a false name and address, and it is likewise unlawful for any such person to refuse or neglect to stop when signaled to stop by any police officer or to refuse upon demand of such police officer to produce his or her certificate of license registration of such vehicle, his or her insurance identification card, or his or her vehicle driver’s license or to refuse to permit such officer to take any such license, card, or certificate for the purpose of examination thereof or to refuse to permit the examination of any equipment of such vehicle or the weighing of such vehicle or to refuse or neglect to produce the certificate of license registration of such vehicle, insurance card, or his or her vehicle driver’s license when requested by any court. Any police officer shall on request produce evidence of his or her authorization as such.
- A violation of this section is a misdemeanor.
46.61.021: Duty to obey law enforcement officer—Authority of officer.
- (1) Any person requested or signaled to stop by a law enforcement officer for a traffic infraction has a duty to stop.
- (2) Whenever any person is stopped for a traffic infraction, the officer may detain that person for a reasonable period of time necessary to identify the person, check for outstanding warrants, check the status of the person’s license, insurance identification card, and the vehicle’s registration, and complete and issue a notice of traffic infraction.
- (3) Any person requested to identify himself or herself to a law enforcement officer pursuant to an investigation of a traffic infraction has a duty to identify himself or herself and give his or her current address.
46.61.022: Failure to obey officer—Penalty.
Any person who willfully fails to stop when requested or signaled to do so by a person reasonably identifiable as a law enforcement officer or to comply with RCW 46.61.021(3), is guilty of a misdemeanor.
46.61.024: Attempting to elude police vehicle—Defense—License revocation.
(1) Any driver of a motor vehicle who willfully fails or refuses to immediately bring his or her vehicle to a stop and who drives his or her vehicle in a reckless manner while attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle, after being given a visual or audible signal to bring the vehicle to a stop, shall be guilty of a class C felony. The signal given by the police officer may be by hand, voice, emergency light, or siren. The officer giving such a signal shall be in uniform and the vehicle shall be equipped with lights and sirens.
(2) It is an affirmative defense to this section which must be established by a preponderance of the evidence that: (a) A reasonable person would not believe that the signal to stop was given by a police officer; and (b) driving after the signal to stop was reasonable under the circumstances.
(3) The license or permit to drive or any nonresident driving privilege of a person convicted of a violation of this section shall be revoked by the department of licensing.
If you’re in an accident, call the police. They will use their authority to investigate the accident, may issue citations to the at fault driver, and will provide those involved with contact information and insurance information for all vehicles involved. This information will be very important in ensuring you can bring a claim against the at fault driver.
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