Individuals involved in an automobile accident may “flee the scene” due to fear, confusion or guilt. This is especially true if the person is driving without a valid driver’s license, drinking and driving, or otherwise feels responsible for the accident. And while instances of “leaving the scene” may be common in Florida, doing this can lead to serious consequences.
Regardless of who is at fault, in Florida, drivers are required to remain at an accident scene and fulfill certain legal obligations. These obligations depend on the severity of the accident.
Florida’s Accident Requirements
If you are involved in an accident involving only property damage, Florida law requires you to:
- Immediately stop your vehicle at the scene or as close as possible to it.
- Notify the owner/operator of any vehicle involved (or the owner of other property that is damaged) of your driver’s name, address and registration number.
- Show your driver’s license if asked by the other party.
- Provide your license, registration, address and other information to investigating officers.
- In cases where the damaged property is unattended, you must either locate the property owner and then comply with the law, or you can securely attach a written notice of your name, address and vehicle registration to the property. Then, you must also notify the nearest law enforcement agency.
If the accident involves bodily injury or death, Florida law requires you to:
- Stop your vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close as possible to it.
- Provide your name, address and vehicle registration number to the other driver.
- Show your driver’s license or permit to drive, if asked.
- Provide your license, registration, address and other information to any law enforcement personnel.
- If it is obvious that medical treatment is required or if the other person requests it, you are required to offer help or call for “reasonable assistance.”
- If the other driver or injured person cannot receive the information, you must report the crash to law enforcement.
Florida’s Hit-and-Run Penalties
Failing to stop and fulfill your legal requirements after an accident can result in criminal charges. Penalties range, depending on the details of the accident:
- Accidents That Involve Only Property Damage
Second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail, 6 months’ probation and a $500 fine
- Accidents That Involve Non-Serious Injury
Third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, 5 years’ probation and a fine up to $5,000
- Accidents That Involve Serious Bodily Injury
Second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000
- Accidents That Involve Death
First-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, with a minimum sentence of 4 years and a fine up to $10,000
Hit-and-run accidents that involve injury or death all include loss of driver’s license for a minimum of 3 years.
Defenses Against a Hit-and-Run Charge in Florida
There are ways to fight a leaving the scene case, such as:
- Lack of knowledge that there was impact with another vehicle, person, or property
- Failure to stop was not willful, but rather was dictated by other circumstances
- Defendant stopped as close to the scene of the crash as possible
- Other driver refused to receive identifying information
- Other driver became belligerent or threatening, requiring you to leave the scene and call police
Trust Our Firm to Help
The good news is that we have assisted many people charged with leaving the scene of an accident. We have helped them receive dismissal of charges, reduced charges, or reduced penalties by presenting mitigating circumstances.
If you need help with a hit-and-run allegation, contact our firm today. You can call us at (954) 280-8811 or contact us online.