Most Florida residents may know that the law requires them to remain at the scene of an accident and call for help if necessary. However, residents may not know that leaving the scene of a crash may result in significant legal penalties, including fines, license suspension and time in prison.
ABC Action News in Tampa Bay reports that nearly one quarter of all Florida car accidents involve a hit and run. In 2017, there were about 98,000 hit-and-run crashes, and Florida Highway Patrol personnel worked on 24,000 of the scenes. In many cases, the lack of evidence made it difficult to find the driver in question. In 2017, only one out of every eight drivers ended up with a hit-and-run citation.
The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles department’s Stay at the Scene public awareness campaign seeks to educate individuals on the risks and penalties of hit-and-run crimes. While most of these accidents only involve property damage, some also include serious injuries. Leaving the scene of an accident may lengthen the time it takes for an injured victim to receive medical help.
Additionally, hit-and-run convictions may lead to harsh penalties. In crashes that only involve property damage, a person leaving the scene may receive a $500 fine and up to 60 days in prison. Leaving an accident that caused injuries may lead to a felony conviction. A convicted individual may lose his or her license for three years. Other consequences may include thousands of dollars in fines and years in prison. Leaving a fatal accident is a first-degree felony with minimum penalties including four years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Staying at the scene of a crash is essential; individuals may prevent serious legal penalties and, more importantly, may be able to help victims receive life-saving medical assistance.