Between 2012 and 2021, there were over 710,000 hit-and-run crashes in Florida. From fender-benders to crashes resulting in deaths, hit-and-run accidents carry serious consequences. If you’ve been in an accident that has caused property damage, injury, or death, you must remain at the scene.
If you leave the scene of an accident, you face charges as well as potential fines. The penalties get more severe the more serious the crash is. Read on to learn more about the consequences of leaving the scene of an accident. And what you should do instead.
Florida law requires you to call the police if you are involved in an accident that results in injury, death, or property damage in an “apparent amount of at least $500.” Because it’s hard to estimate how much damage a crash does and how much it may cost to repair a vehicle, it’s safe to assume that if you are involved in any crash with visible property damage, call the police.
It’s always better to err on the side of caution and call them when you don’t really need them than the alternative of not calling and facing charges.
If you do not call the police, you face a potential noncriminal traffic infraction, which usually involves a fine. However, if there is significant damage, injury, or death, you are facing criminal charges, fines, potential prison time, and revocation of your license if you do not call the police and stay at the scene of an accident.
Fleeing an accident scene is almost a guarantee that your charges are going to be greater and your penalties stiff than if you had simply remained at the scene and dealt with law enforcement.
They will search for you and they will find you. It will be much harder to mount any sort of defense if you flee than if you stayed and faced the consequences.
Crashes Involving Vehicle or Property Damage
The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident depend on the extent of the car crash and the damage done. If it is an accident that results in damage to your vehicle, another vehicle, or property damage, and you flee the scene, you can face second-degree misdemeanor charges.
The potential penalties for a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida include:
- Up to 60 days in jail
- Up to six months of probation
- A fine up to $500 with $5 added to be deposited in the Emergency Medical Services Trust Fund
The penalties increase if there were injuries as a result of the accident.
Crashes Involving Injuries
Leaving the scene of an accident that involved injuries (but not death). Florida considers this a third-degree felony. In order to convict you of this charge, the state attorney must show that you knew of your involvement in an accident. Plus, that you knew or should have known, that a person was injured, and that you failed to stop at the scene and remain there.
If convicted, you face the following penalties:
- Up to five years in prison
- A fine up to $5,000
- Up to five years of probation
Crashes Involving Death
When you leave the scene of an accident after death occurred, you are facing first-degree felony charges. The state attorney must show that you knew that you were involved, knew or should have known about the death, and didn’t stop and remain at the scene.
First-degree felonies come with the potential of:
- Up to 30 years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Up to 30 years on probation
Not only do you face criminal charges and penalties when you leave the scene of a car crash, but you’ll also face administrative penalties, such as losing your driver’s license.
When you are involved in a crash that causes injury and death and you flee the scene, your license may be revoked.
Your Duties After a Crash
When you are involved in any sort of crash that results in damage or injury, there are certain duties that you have in Florida, including:
- Remain at the scene
- Provide your contact information, including your name and address
- Provide the registration number of the car you were driving
- Show your driver’s license
- Provide reasonable assistance for anyone who is injured (calling an ambulance, etc.)
If you hit a car that is parked, you must try to find the owner. And if you cannot, you must leave a note with your contact information and information about the crash. You are not legally required to stay at the scene until the owner of the car or other property returns.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident: Don’t Do It
There are many reasons for leaving the scene of an accident. Most of them involve trying to avoid trouble of some sort. Such as if you were driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license, or having a warrant for your arrest. It is almost a guarantee that law enforcement will find you if you flee and you will then be in more trouble.
Not only will you not avoid getting into trouble from the accident. But you are also going to face even more consequences for leaving the scene. Your best option is to remain at the scene and face any repercussions that may come your way. If you are taken into custody at the scene, contact an attorney as soon as you are able.
Contact us at RHINO Lawyers. We specialize in criminal defense and traffic violations and can provide a free case evaluation.
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