Potential New Felony Traffic Laws Proposed in Illinois General Assembly

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | Criminal Defense, Felonies |

Proposed Legislation Would Make It a Felony to Run from Police

Under the current law in Illinois, anyone who flees from the police after an attempted traffic stop can only be charged with a misdemeanor for fleeing in their vehicle unless they meet certain aggravating criteria. For example, aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer (which is a felony) requires traveling over 21 miles per hour over the speed limit, bodily injury, disobeying two or more traffic control devices, or concealing or altering the vehicle’s registration or digital registration plate.  However, a bill recently introduced in the Illinois State Senate would revise the law to make any “fleeing or attempting to elude” an officer by car a felony. Several law enforcement agencies have welcomed the potential enhanced penalties, noting a recent noticeable uptick in the number of people who have attempted to flee after police effectuate a traffic stop in recent years. Naperville saw over a four-fold increase in recent years of people fleeing police, from 30 vehicles in 2019 to averaging 137 annually in the proceeding years. When asked about the increase in incidents, Naperville police Chief Jason Arres said, “I think a big part of it is, if we’re not chasing, word gets out— Take off, and they’re not going to chase you.” He also pointed to recent a crash that was the direct result of someone fleeing police and the need to protect innocent bystanders from said danger as another reason to support the change in the law to disincentivize any fleeing from law enforcement that could lead to injuries.

 Lawmaker Wants to Make Protestors Blocking Traffic a Felony

After a series of high-profile protests that have blocked off traffic for prolonged periods of time, including one instance that prompted several individuals to walk to O’Hare International Airport to ensure they made their flight, one Illinois State Representative, Dan Ugaste, recently proposed legislation that would make it a felony for individuals to block first responders from accessing roadways during a protest. Ugaste said he was inspired to draft the bill after seeing an ambulance that was affected after protesters shut down traffic. “What if they were in need to get to a call…to help someone, they couldn’t get through, and we just can’t have that,” the lawmaker said, “We have to be able to get our first responders where they need to go to protect the public.” Whether these proposed changes become law remains to be seen, but citizens should stay up to date with criminal statutes because ignorance of the law is not an excuse and any convictions, particularly felonies, comes with a host of collateral consequences independent of a potential jail or prison sentence.


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