Speeding to Elude Arrest

car speeding toward stop sign

The offense of speeding to elude arrest (also called fleeing to elude arrest) occurs when a motorist fails to stop and pull over when the police requires it in the performance of their duties. As a driver, you are expected to pull over when the police siren comes up behind you.

The “Run and You’re Done Law” was enacted by the North Carolina Legislature in 2011. It is intended to criminalize speeding away from the police to stop them from doing their job.

This is why there are serious criminal consequences for such an act under North Carolina law. You could be facing a misdemeanor or felony charge with penalties including possible imprisonment and a permanent criminal record that could disrupt your life in future. The offense of fleeing does not necessarily require speeding. As long as you tried to elude arrest, you may be charged with the offense.

Prosecutors typically include other criminal charges against persons facing a charge of fleeing to elude arrest. Additionally, many people are also charged with resist delay and obstruct a public officer. As a result, if you are being investigated for the offense of fleeing to elude arrest, it is in your best interest to hire a NC criminal defense attorney to evaluate your case and help you put up a defense.

Speeding to elude as a Misdemeanor

Under the North Carolina General Statutes § 20-141.5 it is unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle on a street, highway, or public vehicular area while fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer in the performance of his duties. Generally, in the absence of aggravating factors, the offense is punished as a Class 1 Misdemeanor.

Aggravated Misdemeanor

In some instances, a person may be charged with an aggravated misdemeanor. An aggravated misdemeanor is committed when the fleeing to elude arrest is the proximate cause of a person’s death. It is categorized under NC law as a Class H felony.

Penalties for Misdemeanor fleeing

The punishment for a charge under the Run and You’re Done Law depends on the charge. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, you may be facing any one of the following upon conviction:

  • Suspension of driver’s license for up to a year.
  • Imposition of a fine subject to the Judges’ discretion.
  • Imprisonment for up to 120 days.

A person convicted of an aggravated misdemeanor charge will face up to 39 months imprisonment. Additionally their driver's license will be suspended.

Felony speeding to elude

The law provides that fleeing to elude shall be charged as a felony when there are at least two of the following aggravating factors:

  • Speeding in excess of 15 miles per hour over the legal speed limit.
  • Gross impairment of the person’s faculties while driving due to either of two recognized factors: (i) consumption of an impairing substance or (ii) blood alcohol concentration of not less than 0.14 within a relevant time after the driving.
  • Reckless driving
  • Negligent driving leading to an accident causing personal injury or property damage in excess of $1000.
  • Driving with a revoked driver’s license
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Exceeding a posted speed limit during the hours when the speed limit is in effect in an area designated as a school zone or in a highway work zone.
  • Driving with a child under the age of 12 in the vehicle.

Aggravated felony fleeing to elude arrest charge

Where the felony fleeing is the proximate cause of the death of a person, an aggravated felony charge may lie. A person found in violation in this regard may be charged with a Class E felony.

Punishment for felony speeding to elude

Felony fleeing carries more grievous punishment than the misdemeanor charge. Regard will also be given to the class of the felony, prior conviction and mitigating factors before punishment is imposed. Generally, a person convicted of felony fleeing could be facing any of the following upon conviction:

  • Suspension of driver’s license for a period up to 2 years. If there are three or more aggravating factors the person may face up to three years’ suspension.
  • Imposition of a fine subject to the court’s discretion.
  • Imprisonment for up to 39 months.

Keep in mind that conviction for any of these offenses will result in a criminal record that may negatively impact your life opportunities. It makes the most sense to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you explore all possible defenses as soon as you are arrested.

Defenses to a charge of speeding to elude arrest

We will explore defenses to either mitigate the charge or exonerate you depending on the facts of your case. Our objective is to apply the applicable defenses to such extent as to cast reasonable doubt.

There are two categories of defenses that can be raised. They are the general criminal defenses and the defenses specific to this offense. After evaluating your case, we will strategize on your behalf and determine what defenses are most applicable to your case. Some of the specific defenses include:

  • Absence of aggravating factor: We can plead the absence of aggravating factors to argue that the charges against you should be reduced.
  • Self-defense: Depending on the facts of your case, we may raise the fact of self-defense i.e. that you were fleeing to protect your life or the life of another person.
  • Capacity of arresting officer: If the arresting officer tried to pull you over in their private capacity, we may be able to exonerate you by raising this defence. Likewise, if you did not know the officer was acting in an official capacity at the time of fleeing, this defense may be applicable.
  • Lack of knowledge: We could raise the defense of lack of knowledge where the facts suggest that you were not aware that you were being pulled over. This would have to be substantiated sufficiently with facts to be effective.

The applicability of these defenses to your case will be based on the information you provide to your criminal defense attorney. To ensure that you have the best chances of a positive outcome in your case, always provide all necessary information.

What happens to your vehicle?

The prime targets of the Run and You’re Done Law are defendants who flee leaving their vehicle behind after a chase. The law provides that the vehicle of a person convicted of felony fleeing becomes subject to forfeiture. It also empowers the police to impound such vehicles. This forfeiture applies to aggravated misdemeanors as well.

There may however be situations where the vehicle is a rental or owned by a third party. An innocent third party owner may be able to regain possession of the vehicle. In most cases an innocent owner will need the help of a competent North Carolina criminal defense attorney. Our office has helped innocent owners regain possession of vehicles used in connection with fleeing to elude arrest.

You’ll need a good criminal defense attorney

Finally, defending a charge of fleeing to elude arrest is best left in the hands of a competent and experienced defense attorney. We can help you defend your case and possibly secure lesser sentence where discretion is left to the judge.

Our experienced attorney, Ryan Stowe, will help you explore all possible defenses to get the best possible outcome on your case. For more information, legal advice or representation, you can contact us to schedule a free consultation or reach out to us by calling 704-856-9502.

About Ryan Stowe

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Ryan Stowe is the principal attorney at Stowe Law Firm, PLLC. Mr. Stowe is proud to be practicing in his hometown of Salisbury, NC, and is a first generation Rowan County attorney. Mr. Stowe takes pride in being a criminal defense attorney. He focuse…

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