Under most circumstances, an individual readily complies when he or she sees a police officer signal for him or her to pull over and stop. However, in cases where a driver attempts to flee or elude an officer, there are potentially significant consequences.
Fleeing or Eluding
Under Illinois law, a driver of a vehicle commits a Class A misdemeanor if he or she intentionally fails or refuses to obey an officer’s visual or audible signal or direction to bring the vehicle to a stop. This violation includes if the driver increases the speed he or she is traveling, turns off his or her lights, or otherwise flees or attempts to elude the officer.
A signal given by an officer can occur in a variety of ways. However, an officer must be in uniform and, if the officer is driving, he or she must show illuminated red or blue lights which indicate that the vehicle is a police vehicle when used along with an audible siren.
A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a jail sentence of up to one year, with a fine of up to $2,500. The Secretary of State will suspend an individual’s driver’s license upon receipt of the notice of a conviction. A suspension lasts for a period of up to six months for a first conviction and up to 12 months for a second conviction. If an individual has committed three or more violations of fleeing or eluding an officer, the offense is a Class 4 felony, and is punishable by not less than one year in jail, with a maximum sentence of up to three years.
Aggravated Fleeing or Eluding
A similar, yet more serious offense is aggravated fleeing or eluding an officer. This offense occurs if all of the requirements of fleeing or eluding are satisfied and, while that offense is committed, the driver:
1. Commits two or more moving violations (such as failing to stop at a red light);
2. Exceeds the speed limit by 20 miles per hour or more;
3. Causes physical harm another person;
4. Causes property damage greater than $300; or
5. Conceals or alters the vehicle’s registration plate.
Due to the nature of most fleeing or eluding attempts, one of the above actions can easily occur during the attempt to escape the police. For example, it is likely that a person fleeing will drive at a high rate of speed or ignore traffic signals and signs. If one of the above occurs, the penalties for the attempt at fleeing or eluding increase significantly.
Aggravated fleeing or eluding is a Class 4 felony, with a second or subsequent offense becoming a Class 3 felony. Further, the Secretary of State will revoke the driver’s license of a convicted individual and the motor vehicle used in the fleeing or eluding is subject to a seizure and forfeiture.
Help Defending Criminal Charges
If you have been charged with the offenses of fleeing or eluding, you face potentially serious penalties. For more information about these charges and your defense rights, please contact an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney today. Our firm proudly represents individuals throughout the northwest suburbs, in communities such as Crystal Lake, Deer Park, Schaumburg, Inverness, Palatine, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Barrington, Rolling Meadows, and Buffalo Grove.
About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.