When a police officer flashes his lights, activates his siren, or otherwise directs a person to pull over, it’s a good idea to do so. As a recent case out of Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal shows, declining an officer’s direction to pull over is a felony, even if you don’t understand why the officer wants you to stop your car.
A defendant was charged with fleeing a law enforcement officer at a high speed or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, a second-degree felony, after a run in with the police in 2016. On the day in question, a Martin County police officer was driving in a marked police cruiser when he noticed a truck matching the description of a vehicle for which he was looking. He also noticed some sort of undisclosed “equipment infraction” on the truck. The officer said he turned on the car’s police lights – but did not use the siren – after the car cut from one lane into a turn lane. The defendant pulled the truck into a nearby bank parking lot. When the police cruiser followed, he accelerated, according to the officer.
That’s when the officer activated his sirens. In response, according to the officer, the defendant began weaving through traffic. Another officer who witnessed the incident said neither car reached speeds faster than 40 miles per hour. The speed limit for the area was 35 miles an hour. What the officer following the defendant didn’t know is that the defendant called 911 during this time. He said during the call that he was being followed by a police officer and wanted to pull over in a safe, well-lit area. The officer eventually ended the pursuit by nudging the defendant car in a way that forced it to lose control, spin around, and stop.