Because of the sheer number of auto accidents in Florida, the Florida state law is quite unforgiving when it comes to fleeing the scene of an accident that you were involved in. But how serious is leaving the scene of an accident in Florida depends on the gravity of the accident itself and whether it resulted in injuries or fatalities.
Driving under the influence (DUI) can be a serious crime in Florida. But even if you’re sober and get in involved in a car accident you need to perform your statutory duties as detailed by Florida state law before you can safely leave the scene. Failing to do that could lead to extra charges that range from a misdemeanor to a felony. To find out more about Florida law regarding this and other legal matters, click here for more information.
What’s Leaving the Scene of an Accident?
If you get involved in an auto accident that you think is your fault, you might consider leaving the scene of the accident immediately and hope you didn’t get caught on camera. This is known as a “hit and run”. Statute 316.061 clearly defines the cases when it’s a crime to leave the scene of an accident especially if such an auto accident has resulted in injuries, fatalities, or damage to property.
This legal definition states that if a person is involved in a car accident that causes damage to a building or another vehicle then that person has to perform their statuary duties before leaving the scene of the accident. These statuary duties involve providing the name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number to the person incurring the damage.
But what if the owner of the vehicle or the property sustaining the damage isn’t present at the time of the accident. Then the driver has to leave their personal information and contact number in a visible area.
Legal Obligations for Auto Accidents
But that’s not all the legal obligations and statuary duties that a person involved in a car accident has to perform to stay on the right side of the law. Leaving your information to the victim of the accident is usually the last step. Before that, you have to take certain measures that show clearly both to the victim and the onlookers that you have every intention of facing the consequences of your actions.
This involves bringing your vehicle to a stop at the scene of the accident or the nearest possible area. Then show your personal information, including your driver’s license to the owner of the damaged car or property. If the police are involved, you’ll need to cooperate with the law enforcement officers by providing the same information. If nobody is around, you will have to attach your personal information securely to a place that is easy to find.
In cases where serious injuries or fatalities are involved, you’ll need to take more steps in addition to the above ones. If the injured person requires medical assistance, you need to help that person get to a hospital. This involves calling an ambulance. If the victim is either unconscious or otherwise cannot receive your information, then it’s your duty to call the police and report the accident. You’ll also have to stay by the scene of the accident until the police arrive.
Penalties for Leaving Scene of an Accident in Florida
The penalties for leaving a scene of an accident in Florida vary depending on the nature of the vehicle accident and whether injuries or fatalities are involved. If the accident causes an injury, then fleeing the scene of the accident is a felony of the third degree. The penalty for this felony is either five years in prison or probation of 5 years along with a fine of five thousand dollars.
If the accident leads to a fatality, then fleeing the scene of the accident is considered a felony of the first degree. This serious charge entails up to 30 years in prison, a ten thousand dollar fine, and license revocation. If the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, the penalty must include 2 years in prison at least.
On the other side of the penalty spectrum for hit and run offenses, if the result of the accident is just property damage, then the penalty is relatively lenient. This is considered a second-degree misdemeanor carrying a penalty of sixty days in prison with a five hundred dollar fine.
Getting involved in a car accident in Florida means you have to perform a few steps called statuary duties in order to avoid breaking the law and adding other charges to the list. Make sure to stop the vehicle at or near the scene of the accident and provide your personal information to the owner of the property or car that was damaged. If they’re not around at the time of the car crash, then attach this information to a secure and visible place for the owner to find it.
In case the accident leads to injuries, as the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident, you need to provide reasonable help to assist the injured person to get medical help. If that said person cannot get your information, you need to call the police and report the car accident yourself.