Getting pulled over can be a major annoyance, but trying to flee or elude the police can turn an annoyance into a felony. Often, drivers face the temptation to keep driving after being ordered to stop by police. However, Florida law expressly prohibits such action. In fact, failing to pull over and stop can lead to serious criminal charges. Regardless of whether you are being stopped for a traffic violation, a DUI, or any other offense, keep the following information in mind.
A law enforcement officer has the authority the stop a motorist if the officer reasonably suspects the motorist broke the law. Chances are, you have been pulled over before or seen another vehicle stopped on the road by police. State law requires that drivers obey an authorized officer’s command to stop their vehicle and/or remain stopped on the road. Failing to do so could lead to felony charges and serious criminal penalties.
Penalties for Fleeing and Eluding
Florida legislators are so serious about drivers obeying an officer’s command to stop that the law contains four distinct criminal charges related to fleeing and eluding. The actual charge of fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer means that a driver knowingly failed to comply with an officer’s command to stop their vehicle. This charge also applies to drivers who try to flee an officer after having already stopped. Upon conviction, this charge is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation, a fine up to $5,000, and suspension of driving privileges.
Other similar charges include:
- Fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer with lights and sirens activated (3rd degree felony);
- Fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer with lights and sirens activated with high speed or reckless driving (2nd degree felony); and
- Fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer with lights and sirens activated with high speed or reckless driving and causes serious bodily injury or death (1st degree felony).
It is important to note that a fleeing and eluding charge can be added onto any additional offenses that may have caused an officer to stop you. For example, if police order you to pull over for reckless driving and you then fail to stop, you could face a charge for both reckless driving and fleeing and eluding. The penalties increase with the level of felony, so penalties for a 2nd or 1st degree felony will be more severe than for a 3rd degree felony.
Defending Your Actions
It is not impossible to defend against a fleeing and eluding charge. In Florida, a prosecutor must prove the driver willfully failed to obey the officer’s command to stop or remain stopped. In other words, the prosecutor has to show the driver intentionally disobeyed the officer. Proving such can be difficult, but it is still important to enlist a skilled legal defense against your charges.
Contact an Experienced Defense Attorney
If you are facing charges for fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer, contact Moses & Rooth today. Our attorneys are former prosecutors, and we use that insider knowledge to form the best legal defense for your case. We will work closely with you, analyzing the facts of your case so that we can provide specialized, practical advice. If you live in the Orlando area, and are facing criminal charges, contact our firm today. Our attorneys will be glad to answer your questions in an initial consultation, free of charge. Call us today to schedule your consultation.