Failure to Stop for Blue Lights and Sirens in North Carolina


One of the more serious traffic offenses in North Carolina is the offense of failure to heed lights and sirens. Punished as a misdemeanor, you can be sentenced to jail for a conviction of this crime if your prior record level is high enough. If you are charged with this kind of offense or have any kind of traffic-related matter, call the experienced lawyers at Jetton and Meredith to help you.

Like all criminal cases in North Carolina, in order to convict someone of failure to stop for blue lights, the government must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Failure to stop for blue lights can be found in North Carolina General Statutes 20-157. The elements of this offense are:

  1. The Defendant operated a Motor Vehicle on a highway;

This is generally the easiest element to prove, being behind the wheel of a vehicle with the engine running on any public street or highway is enough to satisfy this element.

  1. While traveling a law enforcement vehicle activated its blue lights;

It is important to note here that it is not the activation of any light or siren, failure to pull over safely for a fire/ems vehicle with red lights is a different charge. This law only pertains to not stopping for a law enforcement vehicle that is displaying its blue lights.

  1. That the law enforcement vehicle emitted a siren that under normal conditions would have been heard from a distance of no less than 1000 feet.

While this seems relatively self-explanatory, the government will have to prove that they used the siren and that the siren was in proper working condition and could be heard at a distance no less than 1000 feet.

  1. That Defendant did not immediately come to a stop and remained stopped.

This is the element that is the most complex for the government to prove. While you should stop as soon as safely possible, you are not required to come to a stop immediately in the lane of travel. Instead, you are required to come to a complete stop and remain stopped in a position that is parallel to the right-hand edge of the road or curb, clear of any intersection or street. This means that you are required to pull over to the right side of the road and not block the lane of travel.

If the government convicts you of failure to stop for blue lights, it is punished as a class 2 misdemeanor. Class 2 misdemeanors can be punishable by up to 60 days in jail, probation, or a fine. Therefore, with the punishment being so severe, it is important that you hire an attorney as quickly as possible. That way your attorney can request any dashcam or other video recordings from the law enforcement agency which can be extremely important to your case. They may also look for traffic cameras or other sources of video or evidence that will assist your case.

If you have been charged with failure to stop for blue lights, please contact the criminal defense team at Jetton and Meredith today.