Fleeing and Eluding Defense

If you have been charged with fleeing and eluding, the prosecutor believes you were the driver of a motor vehicle who willfully failed to obey a hand, voice, emergency light, siren, visual or audible signal by a police or conservation officer, acting in the lawful performance of his/her duty, that directed you to bring your motor vehicle to a stop.

This crime may involve increasing the speed of your vehicle, extinguishing the lights of your vehicle, or otherwise attempting to flee or elude the officer.

The officer giving the signal must have been in uniform, and the officer's vehicle must have been identified as an official police or DNR vehicle.

Michigan has four degrees of fleeing and eluding:

1) First Degree (Felony: up to 15 years prison and/or $10,000; license revocation) if the violation results in the death of another individual.

2) Second Degree (Felony: up to 10 years prison and/or $5,000; license revocation) if the violation results in *serious injury to an individual; or the defendant has one or more prior convictions for (attempted) first, second, or third degree F&E; or the defendant has any combination of two or more prior convictions for (attempted) fourth degree F&E.

* "Serious injury" means a physical injury that is not necessarily permanent, but that constitutes serious bodily disfigurement or that seriously impairs the functioning of a body organ or limb, including loss of or loss of the use of a limb, hand, foot, finger, thumb, eye, or ear; loss or substantial impairment of a bodily function; serious visible disfigurement; a comatose state that lasts for more than 3 days; measurable brain damage or mental impairment; a skull fracture or other serious bone fracture; and a subdural hemorrhage or hematoma.

3) Third Degree (Felony: up to 5 years prison and/or $1,000; license suspension) if the violation results in a collision or accident; or a portion of the violation occurred in an area where the speed limit is 35miles an hour or less; or the defendant commits fourth degree Fleeing and Eluding and has a prior conviction for F&E or Attempted F&E.

4) Fourth Degree (Felony: up to 2 years prison and/or $500 fine; license suspension)

The Michigan statute prohibiting fleeing and eluding is as follows:

MCL 750.479a Failure to obey direction of police or conservation officer to stop motor vehicle; applicability of subsection (1); fleeing and eluding as felony; penalty; suspension of license; revocation; conviction and sentence under other provision; “serious impairment of a body function” defined.

(1) A driver of a motor vehicle who is given by hand, voice, emergency light, or siren a visual or audible signal by a police or conservation officer, acting in the lawful performance of his or her duty, directing the driver to bring his or her motor vehicle to a stop shall not willfully fail to obey that direction by increasing the speed of the vehicle, extinguishing the lights of the vehicle, or otherwise attempting to flee or elude the police or conservation officer. This subsection does not apply unless the police or conservation officer giving the signal is in uniform and the officer's vehicle is identified as an official police or department of natural resources vehicle.

(2) Except as provided in subsection (3), (4), or (5), an individual who violates subsection (1) is guilty of fourth-degree fleeing and eluding, a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.

(3) Except as provided in subsection (4) or (5), an individual who violates subsection (1) is guilty of third-degree fleeing and eluding, a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not
more than $5,000.00, or both, if 1 or more of the following circumstances apply:

  1. The violation results in a collision or accident.
  2. A portion of the violation occurred in an area where the speed limit is 35 miles an hour or less, whether that speed limit is posted or imposed as a matter of law.
  3. The individual has a prior conviction for fourth-degree fleeing and eluding, attempted fourth- degree fleeing and eluding, or fleeing and eluding under a current or former law of this state prohibiting substantially similar conduct.

(4) Except as provided in subsection (5), an individual who violates subsection (1) is guilty of second-degree fleeing and eluding, a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $10,000.00, or both, if 1 or more of the following circumstances apply:

(a) The violation results in serious impairment of a body function of an individual.
(b) The individual has 1 or more prior convictions for first-, second-, or third-degree fleeing and eluding, attempted first-, second-, or third-degree fleeing and eluding, or fleeing and eluding under a current or former law of this state prohibiting substantially similar conduct.
(c) The individual has any combination of 2 or more prior convictions for fourth-degree fleeing and eluding, attempted fourth-degree fleeing and eluding, or fleeing and eluding under a current or former law of this state prohibiting substantially similar conduct.

(5) If the violation results in the death of another individual, an individual who violates subsection (1) is guilty of first-degree fleeing and eluding, a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 15 years or a fine of not more than $15,000.00, or both.

(6) Upon a conviction for a violation or attempted violation under subsection (2) or (3), the secretary of state shall suspend the individual's operator's or chauffeur's license as provided in section 319 of the Michigan vehicle code, 1949 PA 300, MCL 257.319.

(7) Upon a conviction for a violation or attempted violation under subsection (4) or (5), the secretary of state shall revoke the individual's operator's or chauffeur's license as provided in section 303 of the Michigan vehicle code, 1949 PA 300, MCL 257.303.

(8) Except as otherwise provided, a conviction under this section does not prohibit a conviction and sentence under any other applicable provision for conduct arising out of the same transaction. A conviction under subsection (2), (3), (4), or (5) prohibits a conviction under section 602a of the Michigan vehicle code, 1949 PA 300, MCL 257.602a, for conduct arising out of the same transaction.

(9) As used in this section, “serious impairment of a body function” means that term as defined in section 58c of the Michigan vehicle code, 1949 PA 300, MCL 257.58c.

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