People always picture fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer as some high speed chase with new helicopters flying overhead. The reality is much different. Any time you don’t stop fast enough for a police officer, you run the risk of being charged with a felony. For example, even if you continue driving under the speed limit for 3-4 blocks after an officer tries to pull you over, you could find yourself in the back of a police car. In Florida the crime of Fleeing or Eluding an Officer is governed by Statute 316.1935, Florida Statutes. It is illegal for any individual to continue driving a motor vehicle after being ordered to stop the vehicle by a law enforcement officer.
Any person that operates a motor vehicle in Florida that is ordered to stop or remain stopped by a law enforcement officer and then, knowing they were directed to stop either willfully refused to stop the vehicle, or having stopped the vehicle, willfully fled in the vehicle commits the crime if Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Law Enforcement Officer. The driver must be aware that they are being stopped by a law enforcement officer; thus the requirement that the officer be driving a vehicle with markings that identify it as a law enforcement vehicle along with lights and sirens.
Fleeing and Eluding is a felony offense and requires a statutorily-mandated adjudication of guilt. What that means is that even on a first offense an individual with no prior record will be adjudicated guilty and become a convicted felon. Other penalties depend up on the circumstances of the crime. This is one of the lowest level offenses that requires an adjudication of guilt on a felony charge. The reality of the this statute is that if you don’t stop your car fast enough for the police, you could lose your civil rights, including the right to vote or own a firearm.
A fleeing and eluding without any aggravating factors is a third degree felony and is punishable by an adjudication of guilt, mandatory driver’s license suspension of at least one year, up to 5 years prison, up to 5 years of probation, and a $5,000 fine. If the driver engages in reckless driving or a high-speed chase while fleeing from law enforcement the crime is a second degree felony and is punishable an adjudication of guilt, up to 15 years prison, 15 years or probation, a $10,000 fine and a mandatory driver’s license suspension of at least one year. If the reckless driving or high speed chase results in serious bodily injury or death the crime is a first degree felony and is punishable by an adjudication of guilt, a mandatory 3 years in prison but the Court may sentence the defendant to up to 30 years prison, 30 years of probation, a $15,000 fine and a mandatory license revocation.