In the state of Florida, there are certain laws regarding leaving the scene of an accident. In a scary statistic, the Orlando Sentinel reported in 2014 that the number of hit and run accidents had increased by 32 percent in a decade. According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Statistics, there were 15,560 instances of drivers fleeing the scene of accidents in 2013.
What Must Drivers do After an Accident in Florida?
As per the law, drivers who are involved in a car accident that results in property damage, injuries or death must remain at the scene. There are certain statutory duties a driver has after getting into a crash, including the following:
- Drivers must immediately stop after getting in a car accident and remain as close to the scene as possible.
- The driver must show their driver’s license if the other driver or pedestrian asks for it.
- The driver must give their personal and insurance information to a person whose property was damaged in the accident or to a person who sustained an injury as a result of the accident.
- The driver must show their driver’s license and registration to a police officer who arrives on the scene and give them their address as well.
- If no witnesses are present to an accident that results only in property damage, the driver is required to contact the property owner and leave them a note with their name, address and information regarding the accident in an area where the note will clearly be seen. Afterward, the driver is required to notify the nearest police about the accident.
There are additional statutory requirements if the accident resulted in serious injuries or death. They include the following:
- The driver is required to provide “reasonable assistance” to a person who has obvious injuries and requires medical treatment or to a person who requests medical treatment. The driver must call for an ambulance or take the person to the hospital if they are physically able to do so.
- The driver must immediately contact law enforcement if the other person is unable to communicate and the driver is not seriously injured.
What Needs to be Proven for a Conviction?
In Florida, there are certain things that need to be proven in order for a driver to be convicted of a hit and run. The prosecutor needs to prove that there was property damage, an injury or a fatality that resulted directly from the accident. It also needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver in question knew about the property damage or injury or should have reasonably known of it. It must also be proven that the individual chose to leave the scene without leaving a note for the property owner, information to the injured person or contacting the police and that they didn’t attempt to assist the other person involved in the accident.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida
In Florida, the penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident vary depending on the severity of the crash and whether there was property damage, injuries or death. The following charges can be given:
- Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in property damage is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor. The individual can face up to 60 days in jail, six months of probation and a maximum fine of $500.
- Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury is charged as a third-degree felony. If convicted, a person can face up to five years in prison, five years of probation and a maximum fine of $5,000. Their driver’s license is also revoked for a minimum of three years and they are required to complete an Advanced Driver Improvement course lasting 12 hours.
- Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death is charged as a first-degree felony. A person who is convicted can face up to 30 years in prison, 30 years of probation and a maximum fine of $10,000. Their license would also be revoked for at least three years and a 12-hour Advanced Driver Improvement course is required.
If you face hit and run charges in Florida, you need an attorney to defend you in court. Contact William Hanlon Tampa criminal lawyer . at your earliest convenience.