Jacksonville, FL Leaving the Scene of an Accident Attorney
Under Florida law, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, or “Hit and Run,” is a serious
criminal offense that may be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the
facts of a particular case. If you have been charged with leaving the scene of an
accident or “hit and run” in Florida, contact an experienced Jacksonville leaving
the scene of an accident attorney today.
At Hussein & Webber, PL, our criminal defense team has extensive experience representing
clients accused of leaving the scene of an accident and “hit and run.” There are
many defenses available to contest this type of charge, and a hit and run criminal
defense attorney is an essential resource for avoiding or mitigating possible penalties.
The Duty to give Information or Aid at the Scene of a Crash: Attended Vehicles
In Florida, the driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury, death,
or property damage must comply with specified duties. Under Sections 316.027, 316.061,
and 316.062, Florida Statutes, the driver must stop his or her vehicle at the scene
of the crash (or as close thereto as possible) and give his or her name, address,
and vehicle registration number to the other driver. Where there is personal injury
or property damage, the driver must, upon request of the other person, also exhibit
his or her license or permit to drive. If the nature of the injuries require it,
the driver must also render “reasonable assistance” to the injured person, including
the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of such person to a
physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment. Under the statute,
this duty will only apply where it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if
such carrying is requested by the injured person.
In the event none of the persons specified are not in a condition to receive the
information to which they otherwise would be entitled to, and the driver must report
the crash or accident to the nearest police department or law enforcement agency.
The Duty to Give Information: Unattended Vehicles and Property
Under Section 316.063, Florida Statutes, the driver of any vehicle which collides
with any unoccupied vehicle or unattended property, resulting in any damage to such
other vehicle or property, must immediately stop and attempt to either: (1) locate
and notify the owner of the vehicle or other property of the driver’s name and address
and the vehicle registration number for the driver, or (2) attach securely 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.
Afterwards, the driver must contact nearest police department and inform them of
the incident. A violation of these requirements is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable
by up sixty days in jail.
The Duty to Move Your Vehicle Out of Traffic
Although you have an obligation not to leave the scene of an accident, Sections 316.027
and 316.061 of the Florida Statutes also require you to make reasonable efforts to
move your damaged vehicle from the roadway if it is blocking or obstructing traffic.
Often, a driver involved in a crash will move the vehicle to a nearby location so
that the driver can call a family member or law enforcement officer with no intention
of "leaving the scene of an accident." If the moving of the vehicle was done to prevent
an obstruction or blocking of traffic, this may provide a defense to a subsequent
charge of leaving the scene of an accident (discussed below).
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Property Damage
In Florida, the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting only in damage
to a vehicle or other property (i.e. no personal injuries) must immediately stop
his or her vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close thereto as possible and
must forthwith return to, and in every event must remain at, the scene of the crash
until he or she has fulfilled the general statutory requirements pertaining to giving
information and rendering aid. See Section 316.062, Florida Statutes. Again, these
requirements include: (1) stopping, (2) locating and notifying the operator or owner
of the vehicle or other property of the driver's name and address and the registration
number of the vehicle he or she is driving, or (3) attaching securely 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. If no police officer is present, the
driver must notify the nearest police department or law enforcement agency.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury or Death
Florida law requires the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting in the
injury or death of any person to immediately stop his/her vehicle at the scene of
the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and to remain at the scene of the crash
until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of the statute governing leaving the
scene of a crash involving injury or death (see our discussion of duties above).
Where a crash in Florida involves personal injury or death, willful violation of
the statutory requirements described above constitutes a felony of the third degree.
However, where the crash results in a death, a willful violation constitutes a felony
of the first degree and carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of two years. In either case, the court may order the driver to pay restitution- limited to damages
arising from the criminal act of leaving the scene as opposed to all damages resulting
from the accident-- and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
will revoke the driver's license of the person convicted of failing to stop at the
scene of a crash.
Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent and Your Right to Talk with a Lawyer
If you have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident or car crash in Florida,
or if you are under investigation for doing so, it is essential that you exercise
your right to remain silent. Speak with a Jacksonville, FL criminal attorney prior
to making any statement. Often, police in Florida have made up their minds about
what happened in the accident or crash based on what the other driver has alleged.
This means that anything you say can and will be interpreted in a way to incriminate
you. An attorney can help you avoid making such statements and can present contrary
evidence to help prevent charges from being pursued in the first place.