Leaving the Scene of an Accident
According to the Florida Department of HIghway Safety and Motor Vehicles, more than 180 people were killed in hit-and-run accidents in the state in 2015. There were more than 92,000 such collisions altogether that same year. The majority of these crashes result in only property damage, but the number of hit-and-runs has remained steady over the years. To prevent drivers from leaving the scene of an accident, Florida law treats this behavior as a serious crime. Leaving the scene of an accident that has resulted in death or injury is a felony, punishable by jail time.
Accidents involving only property damage
If you are involved in an accident that results only in damage to vehicles or property, the law requires you to stop immediately, as close to the crash scene as possible, and remain there until you have:
- Given the other driver your name, address, and vehicle registration number;
- Shown your driver’s license to the other parties involved, if requested; and
- Given the same information and shown your license to any police officers at the crash scene, if requested. (See Stat. §§316.061, 316.062.)
If you are involved in a crash with an unattended vehicle or property (for example, you hit a car in a parking lot), you must leave a conspicuous notice with the same information, and must also notify the police. (See Fl. Stat. §316.063.) Leaving the scene of an accident where only property has been damaged is a misdemeanor, carrying potential penalties of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.
Accidents involving injury or death
Leaving the scene of an accident in which someone is injured is a much more serious offense. The DHSMV says that the most important thing a driver can do after a crash is to stay on the scene and call for help. Legally, your obligations are similar to those described above: to stop as close to the crash scene as possible and remain there until you have provided your name, address, vehicle registration number, and shown your license, if requested. (See Fl. Stat. §316.027.) You are also required to render reasonable assistance to anyone injured in the accident, including making arrangements for getting the person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital if necessary.
If the other parties involved in the accident are not in a condition to receive the required information and there is no police presence on the scene, you must report the accident to the police.
Leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death is a felony, punishable by significant prison time, fines, and license suspension for a minimum of three years.
Consult an Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you are in an accident, you may be understandably confused or even panicked, especially if you fear that someone has been injured or killed. Panic can make you flee the scene and compound the penalties you face. If you are in such a situation, you need an experienced, dedicated criminal lawyer in your corner. The criminal defense lawyers of The Baez Law Firm zealously represent clients in Orlando, Miami, Tampa, and throughout the state of Florida. Contact us today for a consultation. We can help.