In a ruling
this afternoon, a three-member N.C. Court of Appeals panel determined that bail bondsmen must obey local traffic laws, even when pursuing defendants attempting to flee.
The judges considered the case of Michael McGee, a Goldsboro bail bondsman who on Aug. 31, 2010, exceeded the speed limit while chasing a defendant who failed to appear at a court hearing. During McGee's pursuit—in which he traveled between 80 and 100 miles per hour in a 45-mile-per-hour zone—his fiancée was riding shotgun. While attempting to round a curve, McGee lost control of his car, which flew into an embankment. McGee's fiancée died from crash-related injuries.
Last year a jury found McGee guilty of involuntary manslaughter. He was placed on supervised probation. McGee appealed, arguing that that as a bail bondsman, he should be able to break speeding laws during pursuit of a defendant.
That might be the case for cops, EMTs and firemen; N.C. General Statute § 20-145 states that speed limits "shall not apply to vehicles when operated with due regard for safety under the direction of the police in the chase or apprehension of violators of the law...nor to fire department or fire patrol vehicles when traveling in response to a fire alarm, nor to public or private ambulances and rescue squad emergence service vehicles when traveling in emergencies..."
That statute does not, however, apply to bail bondsmen. Contrary to defendant's argument ... a bail bondsman is like any other citizen in that he or she must follow the state motor vehicle laws," ruled the judges.