Fleeing and Eluding
In Florida, Fleeing and Eluding occurs when a driver fails to stop, or remain stopped, when a law enforcement officer orders the driver to do so. Fla. Stat. § 316.1935. The charge often escalates due to one of several aggravating factors. It is a serious offense often with harsh penalties.
For the State to establish Fleeing and Eluding it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused:
- The defendant operated a vehicle upon a street or highway in Florida;
- A duly authorized law enforcement officer ordered the defendant to stop or remain stopped; and
- The defendant, knowing that he or she had been directed to stop by the police officer, (a) willfully refused or failed to stop the vehicle in compliance with the order, or (b) having stopped the vehicle, willfully fled in vehicle in an attempt to elude the officer.
The charge carries third-degree felony sanctions with penalties of up to five years in proson or five years of probation, a $5,000 fine and mandatory driver’s license suspension that ranges from one to five years in duration.
Often, however, the charge is enhanced due to one of several aggravating factors, the first of which is Fleeing and Eluding: Sirens and Lights Activated. This charge adds a requirement that the law enforcement officer was in an authorized law enforcement patrol vehicle with agency insignia and with sirens and lights activated. Fla. Stat. § 316.1935. This charge remains a third-degree felony with same potential penalties as general Fleeing and Eluding.
The second aggravating factor is charged as Fleeing and Eluding: Sirens and Lights Activated with High Speed or Reckless Driving. This charge adds a requirement that the accused failed to stop, or remain stopped, when a law enforcement officer was in an authorized law enforcement patrol vehicle with agency insignia and with sirens and lights activated and in not stopping or remaining stopped, the accused drove at a high rate of speed or recklessly. Fla. Stat. § 316.1935. This charge is a second-degree felony with penalties of up to 15 years in prison or 15 years of probation, as well as a $10,000 fine and a mandatory driver’s license revocation ranging from one to five years.
Finally, the Fleeing and Eluding becomes a first-degree felony with penalties of up to 30 years in prison or 30 years of probation as well as $10,000 fine and mandatory license revocation for one to five years, when the State charges the defendant with Fleeing and Eluding: Sirens and Lights Activated with High Speed or Reckless Driving Causing Serious Bodily Injury or Death. The additional element here is either the death or serious bodily injury of the victim. Fla. Stat. § 316.1935.
Numerous defenses exist to contest a charge of Fleeing and Eluding in Florida. Common defenses may include a necessity for not stopping such as a medical emergency, the accused did not think the person attempting to stop him or her was law enforcement or an ineffective communication to stop.
If you have been arrested in Florida for Fleeing and Eluding, call Michael for a free consultation.