Deputies won’t be collaring people who stay put

By on October 3, 2012

Traffic backs up in the evacuation for Irene. (Russ Lay)

Dare County Manager Bobby Outten offered assurances this week that deputies won’t be sent out to arrest people who decline to leave for a mandatory evacuation.

Confusion arose after a Hampton Roads television report said a new state law called for a fine of up to $1,000 for people who refuse to heed an evacuation order for a hurricane. It soon spread through social media on the Internet.

There is a new state law, Outten told the Board of Commissioner Monday, but refusal to evacuate was always considered a misdemeanor if towns and counties elected to crack down.

In the last legislative session, lawmakers cleaned up the statute pertaining to emergency management.

“They made all the definitions consistent, they took various statutes and put them together but made very few, if any, substantive changes at all,” Outten said.

One of the changes made the penalty for refusing to leave the same under a local order as it would be if the governor called for a mandatory evacuation.

Evacuations on the Outer Banks have historically been ordered locally.

Before, the penalty for violating a local order was a class-three misdemeanor. Now, both are class-two misdemeanors, essentially increasing a local fine that has never been imposed.

“We’ve had that authority, I suppose, forever, and we’ve never arrested anybody, we’ve never fined anybody, we’ve never taken anybody out of their homes,” Outten said. “There is no plan to do that.”

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