How to Avoid a Hit and Run Car Accident Conviction in Florida
Hit and run car accidents are taken very seriously these days, especially as the roads become more and more flooded with drivers, and the risk for car accidents increase every day. More often than not – so long as there is no negligence involved – a car accident merely results in some points to your record, a few penalties, and some fines. However, if you were to leave the scene of an accident, you could face a lot more than points to your driving record and some fines; a hit and run car accident is viewed as a crime, and as such, is treated and prosecuted as a criminal offense.
When Fleeing the Scene of an Accident is a Misdemeanor
While a fleeing the scene of an accident is always an inconsiderate move, there are two instances in which Florida law views the offense as criminal:
- When unattended property is damaged (Florida Statute 316.063): When a driver hits unattended property – including an unattended vehicle – they are required to make a concerted effort to locate the owner of the property to inform them of the accident. If the owner of the property cannot be found, the driver who caused the damage is required to leave a note with his or her name, address, contact information, and registration information in plain sight, near or on the damaged property, where the owner of the damaged property can be expected to find it. Failure to comply with the provisions laid out in this statute can result in a second degree misdemeanor if caught, and can carry up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine—on top of the fines imposed by the DMV.
- When attended property is damaged (Florida Statute 316.061): When a driver crashes into another vehicle or property that is occupied by another individual, and if the accident results only in property damage, they are required by law to remain at the scene of the accident until they have completed their statutory duties as a Florida driver. A Florida driver has the duty to perform the following after an accident: exchange information with the occupants of the damaged property, including name, address, and registration; present their driver’s license; and lastly, notify law enforcement of the accident. A driver who fails to comply with his or her statutory duties will be charged with a second degree misdemeanor, and can receive up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Were You Panicked?
Oftentimes, when a driver flees the scene of an accident, they do so not because they want to get out of paying for damages or because they were engaged in some illegal activity prior to the crash (such as drinking and driving), but simply because they panicked. If you can prove that you committed a hit and run because of your natural “fight or flight” instinct, and not because you were trying to avoid law enforcement, the Orlando hit and run attorneys at The Baez Law Firm may be able to build a solid defense with that information. Furthermore, if there were any extenuating circumstances that added to your stressed state of mind—such as a recent death in the family, a professional problem, or a relationship issue—we may be able to prove to the judge that your decision making abilities were hindered at the time of the accident, thereby causing you to flee the scene of the accident in a moment of panic.
Consult an Orlando Hit and Run Attorney
At The Baez Law Firm, our traffic offenses attorneys understand that car accidents can induce fear and panic, thereby causing the drivers of both vehicles to make rash decisions. Unfortunately, some of those rash decisions—such as fleeing the scene of the accident—can result in misdemeanor charges and jail time. We make it our job to present the circumstances surrounding the accident and its aftermath in the best possible light to the judge. If you were recently involved in a hit and run accident, contact the Orlando traffic offenses attorneys at The Baez Law Firm to learn more about how we can help you avoid a conviction. Contact our team today at 800-588-BAEZ to schedule your free consultation.