When Can North Carolina Police Engage in High-Speed Chases?

Charlotte Injury Lawyer Matt Arnold answers the question: “Why should I hire an attorney to represent me in a personal injury claim instead of handling the claim on my own?”


Police chases are not a rare occurrence on America’s roads. Unfortunately, those high-speed chases often lead to injuries among not only officers and suspected offenders, but also innocent drivers, pedestrians, and bystanders.

police-chase-Charlotte-Monroe-Lake-Norman-Personal-Injury-Lawyer-300x169According to a 2017 study by 24-7 Wall Street, North Carolina ranked 10th in the country in hot pursuit-related fatalities (240 deaths between 1996 and 2015). A recent high-speed chase in Charlotte, North Carolina, highlighted the problem of casualties in hot pursuits in the state.


High-Speed Police Chase in Charlotte

As reported by WSOC-TV, four people were injured, including a North Carolina state trooper, following a high-speed chase. The pursuit started at around 3 a.m. and ended in a south Charlotte crash at 3:30 a.m. The crash occurred at the intersection of South Boulevard and East Woodlawn Road.

The trooper tried to stop a motor vehicle on Interstate 85 for exceeding the speed limit and not displaying a tag, but the driver – identified as a 16-year-old – refused to pull over. The motorist led the trooper on a high-speed chase. At one point, the driver was speeding in the wrong direction of I-485. The pursuit ended when the offender crashed into a traffic sign and slammed a parked vehicle before speeding up and hitting a power pole.

As a result, three people were hospitalized with critical injuries. The driver, who was driving a stolen Chevrolet Malibu, was charged with speeding and reckless driving, possession of a stolen vehicle, and felony flee to elude.


What are Hot Pursuit Policies in North Carolina?

In 2017, the North Carolina Highway Patrol changed its car chase policy to reduce the potential damage of hot pursuits on the state’s roads. According to WSPA, the state’s Highway Patrol restricted troopers from pursuing vehicles and using the pursuit intervention technique (PIT) maneuver if the vehicle is traveling over 55 mph. Troopers often use the PIT maneuver to stop a car with the force of their own vehicle.

After the policy change, troopers have been allowed to pursue suspected offenders at will if they believe that the motorist committed a felony. Despite these measures, hot pursuit policies vary greatly from department to department in North Carolina.

In fact, the NC Highway Patrol’s police chase policy is considered one of the most aggressive in the state. Troopers can use a variety of techniques to stop the suspect, from PIT maneuvers and roadblocks to the use of spiked strips. The Highway Patrol also breaks down suspected offenders into three categories based on the level of threat that these violators pose to the public:

  • Speeders, drunk drivers, aggressive and reckless drivers, and individuals believed to have committed violent crimes are the high-risk suspects who can be apprehended by engaging in hot pursuit.
  • Drives who commit a traffic violation but continue driving lawfully are classified as medium-risk suspects.
  • Motorists whose vehicles have technical violations are non-hazardous offenders.

At the same time, hot pursuit policies in city police departments tend to be more restrictive. For instance, a police officer in Raleigh does not have to chase a motorist unless they have committed a violent felony.

If you have been hurt in the course of hot pursuit in North Carolina, seek legal help from our Charlotte personal injury attorneys. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to evaluate your options. Call at (704) 370-2828 to receive a consultation with our lawyers to explore your legal options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.







The skilled personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to maximizing the financial recovery and obtaining justice for every personal injury client injured by another party’s negligence. The issues our personal injury clients may be facing include, but are not limited to, slip and fall injuries, wrongful death, product liability, catastrophic injuries, dog bite claims, car and truck accident injuries, motorcycle injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), nursing home negligence, spinal cord injury, boating accidents, and defective medical device injury. Our personal injury attorneys understand the devastating impact such an injury can have on a person’s life, and that the effects so often go beyond physical pain and suffering. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to helping clients determine the strength of their claims, and to aggressively pursuing the means necessary to achieve the best possible end result for each client’s particular situation.








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