DUI and Fleeing / Evading Police in Los Angeles
Most DUI investigations begin when an officer observes a driver commit a traffic violation and then initiates a traffic stop. Officers will activate lights and sometimes sirens and give instructions over the loudspeaker to indicate that they want the driver to pull over and stop. In some cases, the driver will disregard the officer’s order and will continue driving. In these cases, the driver can face DUI charges as well as potential felony charges for fleeing or evading a police officer.Different “Evading” Offenses
Under California Vehicle Code Section 2800.1 VC, it is illegal to willfully evade a police officer in a motor vehicle. A defendant is prohibited from evading, fleeing or trying to elude an officer in a marked vehicle or bicycle who is trying to pull them over. This is a misdemeanor level offense and those convicted be sentenced to up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. In addition, those convicted can have their car impounded for up to 30 days.
If the defendant drove in a reckless manner in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, the defendant can be charged with reckless evading of a peace officer in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 2800.2 VC. This is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of the case. The fact that the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the fleeing offense may be taken into consideration when determining whether or not the defendant was driving recklessly.
If the defendant was driving recklessly while evading and the reckless driving causes serious injury or death to another person, the defendant can be charged with evading a peace officer and causing death or serious bodily injury in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 2800.3 VC. If the reckless driving results in serious bodily injury, this offense is a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If the driving conduct caused the death of another, this offense is always a felony and those convicted can be sentenced to serve up to ten years in prison.
If the defendant was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the injury or death, he or she could potentially be charged with DUI causing injury in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23153 VC, vehicular manslaughter while under the influence pursuant to California Penal Code Section 191.5(b) PC or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under California Penal Code Section 191.5(a) PC.Defenses to Evading
In some cases, the driver of a vehicle may not immediately recognize that an officer is trying to pull over his or her vehicle and they do not stop immediately. In other cases, the driver may recognize that the officer is trying to conduct a vehicle stop, however they cannot immediately find a safe or easily accessible place to pull over. This is often the case when an officer is trying to stop a driver on the freeway or there may be driver confusion. In these cases, the defense would be able to argue that the driver is not guilty of a fleeing or evading offense. In other cases, the prosecution may charge the defendant with felony level reckless fleeing, when really the evading was not done recklessly. In these cases, the defendant may be able to have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor.
If you or a loved one have been charged with DUI and there are additional fleeing charges, it is imperative that you meet with an experienced DUI lawyer right away. Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who understands how to effectively defend clients charged with DUI and with evading offenses.
For more information about DUI while fleeing or evading police, defense attorney Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.