When a driver is confronted with an order from the police to pull over, failure to do so can result in serious criminal charges. The penalties for failing to stop are enhanced if the driver commits multiple moving violations prior to making a complete stop.
The law in Illinois says that fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer is a Class A misdemeanor. The statute that makes this a criminal offense is Section 11-204 of the Vehicle Code.
A person is guilty of fleeing and eluding if, when operating a motor vehicle and having been given a visual or audible signal by a peace officer directing the driver to stop, he willfully fails or refuses to obey such direction, increases speed, turns off his lights, or otherwise flees or attempts to elude the officer. See 625 ILCS 5/11-204.
All Class A misdemeanors in Illinois are punishable by a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of $2,500. More importantly, anyone who is convicted of fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer charged as a Class A misdemeanor will have his driver’s license suspended by the Secretary of State. See 625 ILCS 5/11-204(a)(16).
A first conviction causes a suspended license for 6 months, while a second conviction results in a 12 month suspension.
A third offense is enhanced to a Class 4 felony punishable by 1-3 years prison (Illinois Department of Corrections) and a possible fine of $25,000.
Illinois law also provides enhanced penalties for certain circumstances with fleeing and eluding. For example, the charge will be a felony under any of the following circumstances:
- Speeding 21 mph over the limit.
- Causing bodily injury to any person.
- Causing property damage in excess of $300.
- Disobeying 2 or more official traffic control devices.
If any of the preceding facts are present, then the case becomes a Class 4 felony (1-3 years prison) on the first offense, and a Class 3 felony on any subsequent arrest. A Class 3 felony is punishable by 2-5 years prison and a fine of $25,000.
A conviction for a felony offense of fleeing and eluding results in revoked driver’s license. See 625 ILCS 5/11-205(a)(11). The vehicle may also be subject to forfeiture.
The prosecution only needs to prove that the police officer directed the driver to stop. The order to stop can be made by hand, voice, siren, or red or blue lights, but the officer must be in uniform and, if driving, he must be driving a marked police vehicle (such as a squad).
Where the driver is accused of several traffic violations before pulling over, if he can show that the violations were inadvertent, then he may have a defense.