In Ontario anything over 50 km/h is considered street racing or stunt driving. 7 day roadside licence suspension, 14 day roadside vehicle seizure (regardless of who actually owns the vehicle) and up to a $10 K fine on conviction.
In Ontario, police pursuits are governed by Regulation
That’s Regulation is a significant wall of text.
In Virginia each LEA has their own policies, which are generally similar based on Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission.
Under Virginia law there are four statutes that typically apply to vehicular pursuits or emergency responses: Va. Code §§ 46.2-920, 46.2-817, 19.2-77, and 46.2-921.1.
Va. Code § 46.2-920
Generally, Va. Code § 46.2-920 provides exemptions from criminal prosecution of traffic laws for drivers of emergency vehicles “when such vehicle is being used in the performance of public services, and when such vehicle is operated under emergency conditions.”
Emergency conditions are not specifically
defined, however, law enforcement officers must be in “the chase or apprehension of violators of the law or persons charged with or suspected of any such violation” or “in response to an emergency call.”
Specifically, drivers of these vehicles, including any “law-enforcement vehicle operated by or under the direction of a federal, state, or local law-enforcement officer,” are exempt from certain traffic regulations and may:
• Disregard speed limits;
• Move through posted stops if the speed of
the vehicle is sufficiently reduced to enable it
• Park or stop notwithstanding the other
provisions of this chapter;
• Disregard regulations governing a direction
of movement of vehicles turning in specified
• Move around or pass another vehicle at any
• Pass or overtake stopped or slow-moving
vehicles on the left, in a no-passing zone or by crossing the highway center line, on the way to an emergency; and,
• Pass or overtake stopped or slow-moving vehicles by going off the paved or main traveled portion of the roadway on the right.
Law enforcement officers are required to exercise these exemptions “while having due regard for safety of persons and property.”
law intersects with almost exclusively in situations where an injured (or deceased) suspect is suing a law enforcement agency for a violation of his civil rights, typically in a case of excessive force.
Until recently, if a suspect was injured as a result of police action during a pursuit, he would file a federal § 1983 lawsuit against the agency for a violation of his 4th amendment rights.
The U.S. Supreme Court adopted a test to determine the reasonableness of force used against a fleeing suspect in Tennessee v. Garner. Garner outlines a three part test to determine Fourth Amendment Constitutional vehicular pursuit reasonableness, where the:
• Suspect must pose an immediate threat of serious physical harm to the officer or the public;
• Deadly force must have been necessary to prevent escape; and,
• Suspect is given warning, if feasible.
Typically, this test is applied, as it was in Garner, where police use a firearm to prevent the escape of a suspect.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court created an extension of its use of force Fourth Amendment reasonableness test to vehicular pursuits. In Scott v. Harris, the police executed a PIT maneuver, which terminated the pursuit and left the suspect a paraplegic. The Court held that “[a] police officer's attempt to terminate a dangerous high-speed car chase that threatens the lives of innocent bystanders does not violate the Fourth Amendment, even when it places the fleeing motorist at risk of serious injury or death.”
Additionally, the exemptions only apply when the operator of the emergency vehicle “displays a flashing, blinking, or alternating emergency light or lights;” and, “sounds a siren, exhaust whistle, or air horn designed to give automatically intermittent signals, as may be reasonably necessary.”
Also, the vehicle must be covered by standard motor vehicle liability insurance or a certificate of self insurance.
Furthermore, law enforcement officers will lose these exemptions from criminal prosecution for “conduct constituting reckless disregard of the safety of persons and property.”
In addition to exemptions for criminal prosecution, the statute also has civil liability implications. At the end of subsection B, the statute states that “nothing in this section shall release the operator of any such vehicle from civil liability for failure to use reasonable care in such operation,” although the Virginia Supreme Court has held that “one will not be held negligent per se for the specific acts authorized under the statute.”
Va. Code § 46.2-817
The penalty for eluding or fleeing law enforcement is set forth in Va. Code § 46.2-820. If a person ignores a signal and drives in “wanton or willful” disregard of that signal, he can be subject to a Class 2 misdemeanor. The penalty is increased to a Class 6 felony if the defendant drives in such way as to “interfere with or endanger” the operation of a law enforcement vehicle.
And finally, if a law enforcement officer is killed as a “proximate result of the pursuit,” the defendant can be charged and punished with a Class 4 felony.
Additionally, a defendant’s driver’s license may be suspended for a conviction of this section for either 30 or 90 days.
Va. Code §§ 19.2-77 and 46.2-921.1
Law enforcement officers in Virginia are permitted to cross jurisdictional lines to make warrantless arrests. More specifically, if an officer is in pursuit of a suspect he may “pursue such person anywhere in the Commonwealth and, when actually in close pursuit, may arrest him wherever he is found.”
Motorists also have a duty to yield the right of way to emergency vehicles; failure to do so may be punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
VA recently reauthorized High Speed Pursuits after examining the data on them.