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Legislation would increase penalties for fleeing police

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(The Center Square) – Saying the penalties are too lenient in Illinois, some Republican lawmakers want to increase the consequences for fleeing the police.

In DuPage County alone, cases of fleeing police have increased over the past three years by 151%, but state Sen. Seth Lewis, R-Bartlett, said police departments all over Illinois are experiencing motorists refusing to pull over for a traffic stop.

“We are seeing those who are fleeing and trying to elude law enforcement officers in high-speed chases,” said Lewis at a news conference Wednesday. “It’s a problem.”

Senate Minority Leader John Curran, R-Downers Grove, said anyone fleeing police in Florida is charged with a Class 3 felony and a $5,000 fine. Curran’s legislation in Senate Bill 1807 would increase the penalty in Illinois to a Class 4 felony.

“In Illinois, we continue to keep it at a misdemeanor level. It’s not working,” said Curran. “If it was working, we would not see this increase in situations where people are recklessly fleeing from the police.”

A Class 4 felony conviction in Illinois would result in one to three years prison time. The measure allows for stricter penalties for aggravating factors and charges a person with a Class 3 felony which could come with five years behind bars.

“It is really raising the consequence and one of the most important paths forward to curbing this behavior that is a growing epidemic all throughout the suburbs and metros areas throughout this state,” said Curran.

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police supports the legislation.