Failure to Comply with an Order or Signal of a Police Officer

WHAT IS O.R.C. 2921.331?

Failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer is a serious offense.  It is considered a first degree misdemeanor – the most serious misdemeanor offense – in Ohio.    

ORC 2921.331(A) says:

“No person shall fail to comply with any lawful order or direction of any police officer invested with authority to direct, control, or regulate traffic.”

ORC 2921.33(B) says:

“No person shall operate a motor vehicle so as willfully to elude or flee a police officer after receiving a visible or audible signal from a police officer to bring the person’s motor vehicle to a stop”

The statute includes language regarding seeing and hearing a police officer, so a driver must follow the command of a police officer even if her or she does not actually see the police officer give the command.

A police officer may order a driver to pull over, or to direct him or her to turn a certain way when organizing traffic.  Not following these orders could lead to a charge of Failure to Comply.

failure to comply police columbus

(O.R.C. 2921.331)

Failure to comply is a serious charge.  Violation is typically a First Degree Misdemeanor.  If convicted, potential penalties for Failure to Comply can include:

  • Mandatory License Suspension: 6 months to 3 years. The court may grant limited driving privileges to the offender on a suspension imposed for a misdemeanor violation.
  • Jail: Up to 180 days
  • Fine: Max fine of $1,000.00
  • Points: 6 points on your license

Failure to Comply has the potential to be a felony if several factors are present while the individual commits the offense:

  • The judge/jury finds the driver was fleeing immediately after the commission of a felony, or
  • Fleeing / driving the vehicle was a proximate cause of serious physical harm to persons or property.


Interacting with the police can often be a stressful time in a person’s life, and actions that may have started with good intentions could lead to a charge such as Failure to Comply.  Some potential defenses could include:

  • The driver didn’t hear or misunderstood a police officer’s orders.  In subsection (B) (fleeing), the statute says that the driver must act “willfully” to elude police.  If you don’t know police are trying to catch you, it might be argued that you are not acting “willfully” to elude them. 
  • If there is an explanation for the driver’s actions (i.e. personal or public safety), this might also be used in the drier’s defense to the charges. 

 If you have questions about your Columbus failure to comply charge, talk to our failure to comply defense attorneys at 614-361-2804.