Leaving the Scene of an Accident – often referred to as “Hit & Run” – can be as minor as filling out an accident report (Fla. Stat. 316.062), or as serious as a 1° Felony punishable up to 30 years in Florida State Prison (Fla. Stat. §316.027(2)(c).
How can there be such different treatment?
In Florida, when you are involved in and auto accident that either involves property damage or injury (including death), you must leave your name, address, registration number of their vehicle, and if requested produce a valid Driver’s License. If anyone needs or requests medical attention, you must make reasonable steps to assist, which in today’s times calling 911 via your cellphone is normally enough.
What determines the result of being involved in an accident and not providing the above is what was either damaged or the extent of any injuries that result from the accident. The possible charges for “Hit & Run” in Florida are as follows”
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Unattended Property – A Civil Infraction with a fine up to $500.00. Fla. Stat. §316.062
- Leaving the Scene of Accident with Attended Property – a 2° Misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in the County Jail. Fla. Stat. §316.061
- Leaving the Scene with an Injury not including Serious Bodily Injury of Death – a 3° Felony punishable by up to 5 years in Florida State Prison. Fla. Stat. §316.027(2)(a).
- Leaving the Scene involving Serious Bodily Injury – a 2° Felony punishable by up to 15years in Florida State Prison. Fla. Stat. §316.027(2)(b).
- Leaving the Scene involving Death – a 1° Felony punishable by up to 30 years in Florida State Prison with a 4-year minimum mandatory sentence. Fla. Stat. §316.027(2)(c).
In addition to the above, if damages to property or injury was the result of the act of leaving the scene, and not for the accident itself, then, the Court can order restitution for the damages that result from the conduct of Leaving the Scene.
You can be subject to these penalties even if the actual accident itself wasn’t your fault!
With such a wide variety of punishment for not remaining at the scene of the accident, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer to help you navigate the penalty minefield described above.
Often, there are times that I am contacted by someone who rear-ended a parked car, and a police office has called them sounding like it is not a big deal to just come down to straighten out the simple “misunderstanding”. When a police officer contacts you about a “fender bender” that occurred the other day, that officer likely has all the facts, and he wants to seal the case against you with your “confession”. When individual’s do meet with that officer, often there is more to it than the officer will tell you over the phone.
Are you aware that even a “simple” civil traffic citation can carry 6 points on your license? That gets you halfway to a 30-day suspension of your Driver’s License, and it takes 3 years for those 6 points to no longer count against you.
When an attorney at Taracks & Associates is consulted and retained before you meet with a police officer trying to complete a traffic crash investigation, a plan to resolve this matter is developed so the ramifications of leaving the scene can be minimized.
If you left the scene of an accident at night time, and you are contacted 2 days later by a police officer, even if he or she doesn’t say it, you will be suspected of leaving the scene to avoid a DUI arrest. The officer will know you can’t be charged with DUI, but will want to get you to admit to drinking so that the Court will hand down similar penalties to that of a DUI.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident allegations can have such a wider range of penalties based upon many facts that you are not likely to know. Even the location of your damaged care can have implications including Obstruction Justice or even Tampering with Evidence suspicions. An experienced Hillsborough Criminal Defense Attorney will know who should be contacted on your behalf, when to contact them, and how you should respond to law enforcement to not make a tough situation worse.
Whether you left the scene because the other driver was irate and you were legitimately frightened, you didn’t see any damage, you borrowed the car you were driving without permission, or any other number of reasons; contact Taracks & Associates, for representation through this traffic investigation.