Under Florida law, if you were in a car accident that caused property damage or injuries to other people, it is illegal to flee from the scene of the accident. If you fail to stop, provide your information, and render aid, you could face a charge for hit and run in Florida.
Leaving the scene of an accident in Florida could result in a criminal charge even if you were not aware of the incident. Depending on the severity of the accident, a charge for a hit and run in St. Petersburg could lead to imprisonment and expensive fines.
In the following sections, you’ll find more information about the Florida laws on hit and run accidents and the penalties associated with these offenses.
What Is Considered a Hit and Run in Florida?
In Florida, a hit and run occurs when a driver that was involved in an auto accident, does not stop and leaves the scene without giving his information and rendering aid to any person that was injured in the crash. A hit and run is a criminal offense that could result in a misdemeanor or felony charge.
When a car accident takes place and a person was injured or there was property damage, Florida law establishes that the drivers must stop to give their information and render aid if someone is injured. This means that the parties involved cannot leave the scene of the accident until they have fulfilled this duty.
If you willfully violate Florida laws, you could face a hit-and-run charge. For these types of cases, the prosecution needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew or should have known that you hit someone and you did not remain at the scene of the accident.
According to Florida Statute §316.062, if the accident resulted in property damage or injuries, you are required to provide a police officer, the other driver, or the person investigating the crash with the following information:
- Name and address
- Vehicle’s registration number
- Driver’s license
- Insurance information
Florida hit and run laws also establish that if you crashed a car that was unattended (for example, in a parking lot), you should try to locate the owner or, if this is not possible, you should leave a note with your information. You are also required to report this incident to the police.
Hit and Run Penalties in Florida
Depending on the severity of the accident, in Florida, the charges for a hit and run can range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. Therefore, a conviction could lead to imprisonment and fines, among other penalties.
When people flee from the scene of an accident, they are committing an offense that can result in criminal charges. In Florida, the severity of the crime varies depending on the nature of the damage occasioned by the accident.
According to Florida Statute §316.061(1), a hit and run that only caused property damage is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. A conviction for a hit-and-run misdemeanor can result in a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days of jail.
On the other hand, hit-and-run felonies in Florida occur if one of the drivers leaves the scene of an accident where a person was injured. In this case, the charges depend on the seriousness of the injury.
Florida Statute §316.027 classifies these crimes into:
|Situation||Type of felony||Maximum imprisonment||Maximum fine|
|Someone was injured||Third-degree||5 years||$5,000|
|Someone suffered serious bodily injuries||Second-degree||15years||$10,000|
|Someone died as a result of the crash||First-degree||30 years||$10,000|
In addition to imprisonment and fines, a person who is convicted for a felony hit and run could also have his or her driver’s license revoked. If the driver was involved in a DUI hit and run (was under the influence of alcohol or drugs) that results in the death of another, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of four years.
Defenses for Hit and Run Cases
To convict you for a hit and run, the prosecutor needs to prove that you willingly left the scene of the accident. Although the defense for these types of charges depends on the circumstances of your case, our Goldman Wetzel attorneys may be able to pursue one of the following defense strategies:
- You did not know that the accident happened: in many cases, defendants may not be aware that they hit a person or another vehicle due to the circumstances that surrounded the accident. Depending on the evidence collected, a defense attorney may be able to prove that you were driving at night, through crowded streets or with other factors that prevented you from noticing the accident.
- You were the only person injured: in Florida, hit and run offenses involve the harm of another person or property damage. If applicable, a defense attorney may be able to prove that there was no damage to the property and that the only person injured as a result of the accident was you. In this case, your attorney may be able to get your charge dropped or reduced.
- Mistaken identity: it is possible that, in some hit and run cases, people accuse the wrong person. If you were mistakenly charged, your defense attorney will gather evidence necessary to get the charges dropped.
Contact a Hit and Run Attorney in St. Petersburg
Leaving the scene of an accident can result in a hit-and-run charge. In Florida, these are serious offenses that can lead to imprisonment, fines, and the revocation of your driver’s license. If you are facing charges, you should contact a hit-and-run attorney in St. Petersburg.