If a police officer tries to pull you over with his siren or flashing lights and you choose to drive away, you could be charged with a serious crime. The law in Illinois says that fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer is a Class A misdemeanor. You could go to jail for up to one year.
The offense of fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer comes from the Illinois Vehicle Code. The statute is found that 625 ILCS 5/11-204. This section provides that a first and second offense is a misdemeanor, but a third offense is a Class 4 felony.
A conviction for fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer will cause the Secretary of State to suspend your drivers license for six months. A second conviction will cause the Secretary to suspend your driving privileges for 12 months.
In order to convict the defendant, the prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
That the driver or operator of a motor vehicle, having been given a visual or audible signal by police officer directing such driver or operator to stop, willfully failed or refused to obey such direction, increased his speed, extinguished his lights, or otherwise fled or attempted to elude the officer.
And so, it is apparent from the statute the defendant has a defense if he can show that it was unintentional for inadvertent. A person is guilty only if he took such action willfully. So, if the accused never saw the police officer behind him, it would not be a crime.
Second, the defendant may have a defense if he can show that the police officer had not used a visual or audible signal to pull over.
While most vehicle code offenses do not result in jail, an this is an offense for which the judge will make an exception. Judges are not interested in hearing excuses for why an offender failed to pull over in a traffic stop. For example, a person who has a second offense of DUI may never go to jail, but a person with a first offense of fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer may serve time.