Pinellas Sheriff to Seize and Sell Cars of Drivers Fleeing From Deputies

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Starting June 11, drivers in Pinellas County who flee from deputies will face the loss of their vehicles. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced that any driver who fails to stop when directed by deputies will have their car seized and forfeited under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.

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New Measures to Combat Fleeing Offenses

Sheriff Gualtieri considers fleeing and eluding offenses an epidemic in the county, highlighting the severe consequences. To improve road safety, the sheriff’s office narrowed the criteria for pursuing suspects in 2014. Deputies now only pursue individuals involved in violent crimes, posing threats to the community, or driving dangerously. This change reduced pursuits from about 100 per year to around 10, with only five in 2023.

Despite fewer pursuits, fleeing incidents remain high. Between January 2022 and April 2024, deputies recorded 1,042 fleeing and eluding offenses. This trend mirrors a national increase in fatal crashes from police pursuits, which rose 40% from 2019 to 2022, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Seizing and Selling Vehicles

Starting Tuesday, any car used in a fleeing incident will be seized when the driver is stopped or later identified through the license plate recognition system. If the car belongs to someone else, the owner will receive a warning for the first offense and have their vehicle seized after a second offense.

Proceeds from the sale of seized cars will fund public service initiatives, enhancing community safety and support.

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Sheriff Bob Gualtieri held a press conference on June 5, 2024, discussing a new initiative to seize vehicles that flee from law enforcement during traffic stops. To view the release, visit: https://bit.ly/4c7cZsd

Publicado por Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office en Miércoles, 5 de junio de 2024

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