Leaving the scene of an accident (committing a hit and run) is a crime. Drivers who leave an accident site that involves property damages, or the injury or death of another person face serious consequences. Below we will discuss your responsibilities after an accident, the potential consequences of a conviction, and why you need an experienced attorney if charged with this traffic violation.
Hit & Run Accident Laws in Florida
Under Florida Statute § 316.062, after a collision that results in any property damage (i.e. to another person’s car, home, etc.) or the injury or death of another person (regardless of who is at fault), you must:
- Stop and stay within the vicinity of the accident site
- Share your name, address, vehicle registration number, and license with the other driver, property owner, and/or any person looking after the vehicle or property
- Show your license (or permit) with investigators at the scene when asked
- Offer assistance to any person injured in the crash (i.e. taking them to the hospital, calling an ambulance, etc.)
If the other party involved is not in a condition to receive your information, you should share the driver information with a police officer present or call the police to report the accident immediately.
If you hit and damage a car or property that is unattended, you are still legally required to stop and try to notify the property owner or attendant of the incident as well as the driver’s name, address, vehicle description, and vehicle registration number. If you are unable to make an in-person notification, you must leave a note with the necessary information in plain sight and contact the police (see Florida Statute § 316.063).
According to Florida Statute § 316.064, drivers are excused from reporting an accident if they are physically incapable of doing so. However, if there was a passenger in the vehicle, they must then report the incident. If no passengers were present, the owner of the vehicle involved should make the report within 10 days of the crash. Failure to adhere to this section is punishable as a nonmoving traffic violation.
Under Florida Statute § 316.065, drivers must report crashes resulting in injury, death, or property damage of $501 or more to the local police department, sheriff’s office, or Highway Patrol station (depending on where the accident occurs). Violating this law is considered a nonmoving traffic violation. You (or another party) may also face being charged with a first-degree misdemeanor if you repair the vehicle before making a report.
What Happens if You Leave the Scene of an Accident?
Florida General Statutes § 316.061 and § 316.027 remind drivers that they must adhere to the aforementioned laws after accidents resulting in vehicle or property damage, injury, or death. If you fail to stop after an accident, share the driver’s information, and/or offer needed assistance, you can be charged with:
- A second-degree misdemeanor if you flee a scene that results in property damage. A conviction carries penalties of up to 60 days of imprisonment, 6 months of probation, and/or $500 of fines.
- A third-degree felony if you flee a scene that results in another person being injured. A conviction carries penalties of up to 5 years of imprisonment, 5 years of probation, and/or $5,000 of fines.
- A second-degree felony if you flee a scene that results in serious bodily injury. A conviction carries penalties of up to 15 years of imprisonment, 15 years of probation, and/or $10,000 in fines. Serious bodily injury is defined as an injury to a party involved in the crash (be they a driver or passenger) that risks death, disfigurement, or loss of an organ or bodily function.
- A first-degree felony if you flee a scene that results in death. A conviction carries penalties of up to 30 years of imprisonment, 15 years of probation, and/or $10,000 of fines.
If convicted of the aforementioned felonies after leaving an accident site, violators also face having their driver’s license revoked for at least 3 years. It is also important to note that courts may enhance penalties or enforce a minimum prison term:
- if the alleged offender is considered a habitual felony or violent felony offender (as defined in Florida Statute § 775.084).
- with consideration to the victim’s injuries or death (i.e. if the victim’s death could have been prevented by reporting the incident or the delay in reporting exacerbated the victim’s injuries).
Will Your Insurance Cover You If You Leave the Scene?
You will need to review the terms of your specific policy. Different insurance companies and plans have different clauses, and in some cases, your insurer will not cover any damages if you leave the scene of the accident.
Retain The Wiseman Law Firm
With over 15 years of legal experience, our attorney can help clients facing hit and run charges defend themselves and protect their rights and freedoms. Retaining our firm can make all the difference in your case outcome as we:
- Understand the laws and can help you prepare a strong legal defense
- Can advise you on the best course of action (i.e accepting a plea deal vs. fighting in court, working to get the charges dismissed, etc.)
- Are honest with our clients about the possible case outcomes
The prosecution must be able to prove that:
- You knew (or should have known) that you were involved in a collision.
- You were driving the vehicle that was involved in the crash.
- The crash resulted in damages, injuries, or the loss of life.
- You intentionally left the scene without sharing your information or providing assistance.
We can work to investigate the accident you were allegedly involved in and seek to prove that:
- You were not behind the wheel.
- You had a legitimate reason to leave the scene (i.e. the other driver was acting erratically and/or threateningly).
- You were physically unable to report the incident.
- You were unaware an accident occurred (i.e. you didn’t feel the impact when you backed up and tapped another vehicle).
- You did not damage any property (i.e. the property you hit remained intact and any reported damage was the result of another incident).
For a personalized defense strategy and the legal representation you deserve, reach out to The Wiseman Firm. You can reach our team online or at (407) 708-9127 24/7.