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What Happens When A DUI Suspect Flees Law Enforcement?

California is known for many things, from sandy beaches to Hollywood movies to beautiful weather nearly year-round. It is also known for police pursuits, the most infamous of which is likely the 1994 slow-speed chase involving O.J. Simpson. Car chases occur frequently in Southern California, with local news stations providing live coverage for the viewing public both on television and online.

There are many reasons that drivers may choose to flee from police when they see red and blue flashing lights in their rearview mirrors, including for example driving a stolen vehicle, driving on a suspended license, or simply not wanting to get arrested. Another reason that a driver may not stop and pull over is that he or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

One such pursuit occurred recently in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. The pursuit began around Pacoima and involved a woman driving a white Ford sedan and whom the police suspected was driving under the influence. She “transitioned from streets onto the 210 Freeway and picked up speed in the Sylmar area, stopping briefly under a freeway overpass before continuing with hazard lights activated.” She ended up in the Santa Clarita Valley and was involved in at least one crash before she was taken into custody.

Interestingly, this was not the first pursuit the woman had been involved in. The previous night she had fled from police who were pursuing her because she was suspected of violating a restraining order. However, after a time officers ceased following her as they knew the identity of the woman and planned to contact her at a later time. As it turns out, that contact ended up being the next morning.

If an intoxicated driver flees from police, he or she can face other charges in addition to a DUI charge. According to Cal. Veh. Code 2800.1(a)(1)-(4), a driver can face a misdemeanor charge if he or she flees from a police officer's motor vehicle when:

  • The peace officer's car is distinctly marked.
  • The driver is a peace officer who is wearing a distinctive uniform.
  • The vehicle has at least one lighted red lamp visible from the front and the person either sees or reasonably should have seen the lamp.
  • The peace officer sounds the siren of the vehicle as reasonably necessary.

This fleeing offense is punishable by up to one year in jail. However, fleeing from law enforcement can also be charged as a felony under certain circumstances. For example, if a driver is determined to have evaded law enforcement and driving without regard for the safety of other individuals or property, then the driver can be charged with Felony Reckless Evading which is punishable by a prison term of at least six months and a minimum fine of $1,000. Cal. Veh. Code 2800.2(a).

If you have been charged with a DUI and any other related offense, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of John A. Campanella today.

John Campanella

I have been representing people accused of drunk driving since I began practicing in 1995. I went to my first Sacramento DUI conference that year and listened to great DUI attorneys like Ed Kuwatch AKA, “Fast Eddie” and Lawrence Taylor who motivated me to study and practice in this area of law.

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