Leaving the Scene of an Accident: Florida’s Hit-and-Run Laws
The problem of hit-and-run drivers after an accident is increasing in our state. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that over the last two years hit-and-run crashes resulting in fatalities increased by 23% from 2013 to 2014. And the number of hit-and-run accidents overall has increased by 7% during the same time. In total, hit-and-run crashes make up 25% of all crashes statewide.
These startling and shocking numbers beg the question: what are Florida’s laws on hit-and-run crashes? The answer to that question has several different considerations that are discussed below.
Duty to Render Aid and Call the Authorities
Florida law is clear as to what a person is required to do following an accident. Florida Statutes 316.062 plainly state that the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident that causes damage to another person or vehicle is required to do the following:
- Give his name, address, vehicle registration number to the other driver of the accident;
- Produce the same information and driver’s license to any police officer investigating the accident;
- Render reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident; and
- Call and report the accident to the nearest police officer or law enforcement organization.
These are the duties that arise when someone is involved in an accident in Florida. And violation of any of these duties is considered a noncriminal traffic infraction. But there are different penalties for hit-and-run when alcohol is involved, or someone is killed or seriously injured.
Florida’s New Law on Hit-and-Run Accidents
In 2014, Florida’s new laws on hit-and-run accidents went into effect. Under the terms of the new law, if someone is in an accident where another person is seriously injured or killed, and they fail to fulfill the obligations as outlined above, they can be found guilty of a number of felonies as follows:
- Leaving the scene of an accident where another was simply hurt can result in a third degree felony.
- Leaving the scene of an accident where another was seriously hurt can result in a second degree felony.
- Leaving the scene of an accident where another was killed, or where the person leaving was driving under the influence of DUI, can result in a first degree felony conviction and a mandatory minimum jail term of 4 years.
These mandatory minimum jail terms and felony convictions are in addition to the threat of losing a driver’s license.
As you can see, Florida’s laws on hit-and-run accidents have severe consequences for violations. Violating them can result in serious jail time, licence suspension, and fines. But beyond the criminal liability is civil liability as well. The civil law places on each Florida driver a duty to drive their vehicle reasonably. If a driver fails to drive reasonably (a hit-and-run accident, for example) and causes damage to another, they are liable for those damages.
We all need to remember that we are sharing the roads as we drive. But when someone forgets, and causes an accident, they should be held responsible. At Alan Goldfarb, P.A., we believe that injured victims should be compensated fairly and justly. We serve clients in the Miami area, and are prepared to assist you today.