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Can you break the law in an emergency?

On Behalf of | Dec 26, 2022 | Criminal Defense

In an emergency situation, people often just react. They may not have time to do anything else or consider the legality of their actions. They may also think that breaking the law isn’t because they had no choice due to the emergency.

One example of this could be if a man’s wife goes into labor and he is breaking the speed limit trying to rush her to the hospital to deliver the baby. Another example could be if someone gets injured at a social gathering, but everyone who is there has been drinking alcohol. To get that person to the hospital, someone decides to drive under the influence, even though they know doing so is illegal.

The police can use discretion

There are two things to think about here. The first is that the police do have some discretion about arresting someone. There are stories of police officers pulling over people speeding to the hospital, for instance, and then escorting them the rest of the way so that they can drive quickly and safely at the same time. The police officer recognizes the emergency and takes appropriate action to keep everyone safe. They don’t necessarily have to give out a ticket or make an arrest if they don’t believe it’s necessary.

That being said, the laws do not change just because of an emergency. It is still illegal to break the speed limit or drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An officer could certainly still charge you with a crime, even if they acknowledge that the emergency situation was the only reason you committed that crime.

As such, if you have been arrested in such a situation, it’s important to know about all of your legal defense options.

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