In an Accident? Don’t Leave the Scene
In all the advice you may have heard or read about what to do when you are involved in an auto accident, there is one thing to keep in mind. It is a crime to leave the scene. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, more than 180 people were killed in hit and run crashes in 2015, and the number of crashes has remained steady over the last several years. Here is just a sample of hit and run incidents on Florida roadways in 2016:
- A woman and two young children were struck in Miramar by a vehicle that jumped the curb;
- Two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were struck by a car in Miami Beach as they tried to hail a cab;
- A 61-year old man on a bicycle was hit and killed by a pickup truck in Miami; and
- MMA fighter Jordan Parsons was hit and killed crossing a highway in Delray Beach.
If there is only property damage
If you are involved in an accident where no one is injured, but property damage is caused, Florida law requires you to:
- Stop as close to the crash scene as possible;
- Give the other driver (or drivers) your name, address, and vehicle registration number;
- Show your driver’s license to the other parties involved, if requested; and
- Give the same information and show your license to any police officers at the crash scene, if requested. (See Stat. §§316.061, 316.062.)
If you are in a collision that causes damage to someone else’s unattended vehicle or property (for example, you hit a parked car), you must leave a conspicuous notice containing the information described above, and the law requires you to also notify the police. (See Fl. Stat. §316.063.)
Leaving the scene of a non-injury accident is a misdemeanor. If convicted, you may face fines and as much as 60 days in jail.
Where there are injuries or death
According to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the most important thing you can do after an injury accident is remain at the scene and call for help. The law requires you to remain and provide the same information detailed above. You must also render reasonable assistance to anyone injured, which may include making arrangements for the person to receive medical aid. (See Fl. Stat. §316.027, Fl. Stat. §316.062.) Leaving the scene of an accident that causes injury is a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Leaving the scene of an accident that causes a death is a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Consult a Winter Park Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been involved in an accident, especially if someone has been hurt, your first instinct might be to flee. But flight is the worst choice you could make, compounding any trouble you might be in. Your best bet is to turn to an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At Cotter & Zelman, P.A., we offer you the personal attention and trustworthy counsel you need to mount the most effective defense to the charges against you. We represent clients in a wide variety of criminal matters throughout central Florida. Contact us about your case today.