Speeding to Elude Arrest (Failure to Heed)

In an attempt to help the state's law enforcement officers do their job, the North Carolina legislature enacted N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-141.5, which makes it illegal for drivers on public roadways in the state to speed in order to get away from a police officer. Speeding to elude – also known as failure to heed – is a serious crime that comes with significant penalties.

Speeding to Elude in North Carolina

In North Carolina, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a driver to operate their vehicle in a way that is meant to get away from a police officer who is lawfully performing their duties. If convicted, you could face between 1 and 45 days in jail, and a fine at the discretion of the court.

However, this Class 1 misdemeanor for failure to heed turns into a Class H felony if two or more of the following aggravating factors are present in your case:

  1. You were driving 15mph or more above the speed limit,
  2. You were driving any amount over the speed limit and were in a school zone or a highway work zone,
  3. You passed a stopped school bus,
  4. You were under “gross impairment,” whether from a chemical substance or from having a blood alcohol content of 0.14% or more,
  5. You were driving recklessly under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-140,
  6. You were driving negligently and caused an accident that either caused property damage of more than $1,000 or hurt someone else,
  7. Your drivers' license was revoked at the time of the incident, or
  8. You were driving with a child below the age of 12 in your vehicle.

Convictions for Class H felonies can lead to up to 39 months in jail, as well as a fine at the discretion of the court.

Additionally, a conviction for speeding to elude can also result in a license suspension:

Offense Type License Suspension
Misdemeanor Up to 1 year
Felony with 2 aggravating factors Up to 2 years
Felony with 3 or more aggravating factors Up to 3 years

Finally, if speeding to elude a law enforcement officer results in a death to any person at all – even a bystander – the penalties jump significantly. If the failure to heed was a Class 1 misdemeanor but ended in a fatality, it becomes a Class H felony. If the failure to heed already had the aggravating factors that made it a Class H felony, the fatality would make it a Class E felony, punishable by up to 88 months in jail and a fine set by the court.

Defenses to Failure to Heed a Police Officer

If you have been arrested and are facing charges for failure to heed to a police officer in North Carolina, there are two different defenses that you can use to combat the allegations:

  1. You were unaware that you were being pursued by the officer, or
  2. You were unaware that the car that was pursuing you was a law enforcement officer in the legal performance of their duties.

North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys at Caulder & Valentine

Having an effective defense attorney at your side can help you avoid a costly conviction or eliminate or reduce the sentence you could face. Call Caulder & Valentine at (704) 470-2440 or contact us online.


Shelby Office
303 West Marion Street
Shelby, NC 28150
704.754.8401 (fax)
Gastonia Office
316 S Chester St
Gastonia, NC 28052
704.754.8401 (fax)