Fleeing and Eluding May Not Just Cost Your Freedom – Under a New Policy, It May Cost You Your Car as Well

If you or a loved one has been arrested for “Fleeing and Eluding” in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, or the surrounding areas of Pinellas County, it is no longer just your freedom at stake. In this article, the best fleeing and eluding defense lawyers in Pinellas County discuss a recent policy change instituted by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office that may result in the seizure of your vehicle after a fleeing and eluding arrest.



The New Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Policy

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced a new initiative during a press conference on June 5, 2024, to address an epidemic of individuals fleeing from law enforcement in vehicles. Since January 2022, there have been 1,042 cases of fleeing and eluding in Pinellas County.

Beginning June 11, 2024, any individual who flees from a Pinellas County deputy in a vehicle when directed to stop will face vehicle seizure under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. Here are the key points of the new policy:

  • If the driver who flees is the vehicle’s owner, the vehicle will be seized.
  • If the driver is not the owner, the owner will receive a written notice about the offense. If the same individual repeats the offense, the vehicle will be seized.
  • For vehicles owned by rental car companies, the company will be notified. If the same individual flees again in a rental vehicle, that specific vehicle will be seized.

Sheriff Gualtieri emphasized, “If you value your car, do not flee from law enforcement. Do not lend your vehicle to someone who evades the police.”

Challenging the Forfeiture of a Vehicle Under the Florida Forfeiture Act

In cases of forfeiture proceedings in Pinellas County, it is imperative that you retain experienced counsel to formally file responsive pleadings and affirmative defenses within twenty (20) days after the seizure complaint and finding of probable cause. It is crucial not to delay in taking action. Upon receiving the notice, it is highly recommended to engage the services of the highly experienced Fleeing and Eluding defense attorneys at Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan.

Contact Our Office for a Free Consultation Today

Regrettably, many property owners fail to act within the strict time constraints outlined, resulting in the government retaining possession of the property uncontested. Contact our office for a free consultation with our dedicated team of criminal defense attorneys to discuss your rights – both with the criminal case and the property seizure.

Contact us today or call us at (727) 578-0303 to request a consultation.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.