Leaving the Scene
In Florida, a “Hit and Run”, or technically, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, occurs when a driver fails to remain at the site of an accident or crash and fulfill his or her legal duties, when the crash involves death, bodily injury, or property damage. Fla. Stat. § 316.061. Depending on the type of damage, the penalties for Leaving the Scene range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. When the crash involves, death, for instance, the crime is a first-degree felony, and carries a potential 30-year prison sentence. If the crash, however, only involves property damage, the crime is a second-degree misdemeanor and carries a maximum 60-day jail sentence. Outside of very limited circumstances, restitution is not available to the person whose property was damaged or who was injured or died.
When a crash or accident involves property damage, such as a crash into another car or into a telephone pole, a driver must:
- Immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close to it as possible
- Notify the operator or owner of the vehicle or other property of his or her name, address and vehicle registration number
- Show his or her driver’s license to the other party, if requested to do so
- Provide his or her license, registration, address, and other information to any investigating police officers
- If the property damaged in the crash is unattended, the driver must either locate the property owner (and then comply with the duties described above) or securely attach in a conspicuous place in or on the vehicle or other property a written notice giving the driver’s name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving. The driver must then notify the nearest police department or law enforcement agency of the crash.
When a crash or accident causes bodily injury or death to another person a driver must:
1. Immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close to it as possible
2. Provide the other party with his or her name, address and vehicle registration number
3. Show his or her driver’s license to the other party, if requested to do so
4. Provide his or her license, registration, address, and other information to any investigating police officers
5. If it is apparent that medical treatment is required or if it is requested by the other person, render “reasonable assistance,” which includes carrying or arranging for the carrying of the person to receive medical treatment
6. If the other driver or person is not in a condition to receive the information specified above, the non-injured driver must report the crash to the nearest police authority.
To prove the crime of Leaving the Scene of An Accident or Crash at trial, the State must establish four factual elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. The defendant drove the vehicle involved in the crash that resulted property damage, bodily injury, or death to another person;
2. The defendant knew or should have known that he or she crashed;
3. The defendant knew or should have known of the property damage, bodily injury, or death to the other person; and,
4. The defendant willfully failed to stop at the scene of the crash, or as close to the crash as possible, and failed to remain there until he or she had given identifying information to the other driver, occupant, person attending vehicle, or investigating police officer, or the defendant failed to render “reasonable assistance” to the injured person if such treatment appeared to be necessary or was requested by the injured person.
Leaving the Scene charges, like many criminal traffic charges, are very defensible. Common defenses, include, but are not limited to, the lack of a wheel witness, or the driver’s lack of knowledge of the crash. In all leaving the scene cases, a skilled attorney can help an accused minimize, or perhaps avoid, penalties. Call Michael for a free consultation.