Leaving the Scene of an Accident

Tampa Lawyer Helping Drivers Fight Hit and Run Charges

It is a crime in Florida to leave the scene of a motor vehicle crash, or commit a hit and run. However, people still leave for many reasons. In some cases, they were drinking and driving and are afraid of being charged with a DUI offense. In other cases, they are concerned about liability because they do not have insurance to pay for the other person's medical expenses and lost income. When you are involved in a collision that involves damage to the other vehicle or injuries or death to someone in the other car, you are supposed to stop. If you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident, you should retain a skillful Tampa criminal defense attorney. A conviction is not assured, and having a tenacious lawyer who understands the possible defenses can make a huge difference to your case.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident

A hit and run is the failure of a driver to stay at the site of a crash and follow the procedures required by statute when the crash involves injuries, death, or property damage. The least serious type of leaving the scene of a collision is a violation of Section 316.063. It involves leaving when the damage done to an unattended car is the only harm suffered. You are supposed to immediately stop and locate the other driver and attach a written notice providing your information, including your address and name and your car's registration number, and you should let the police know.

This is a misdemeanor of the second degree. You may face 60 days in jail and a fine of $500 if you are convicted. We may be able to defend this type of charge by showing that you attached the required information to the other car.

If you are involved in a crash with another vehicle that is being driven or attended by someone, you are also supposed to stop and fulfill certain requirements, such as providing your name and address and the registration number of your vehicle. If asked, you should also show your license or permit and provide information to any police officer at the scene.

When someone is injured, you are supposed to render aid to that person, such as by calling the police or arranging for that person to go to the hospital when it is apparent that the person needs treatment or they ask for help.

To secure a conviction for the crime of leaving the scene of an accident, a prosecutor will need to show that you drove a car that was involved in a crash that caused an injury or death to someone or resulted in property damage to the other person. The prosecutor also must show that you knew or should have known that you were involved in a crash and that you knew or should have known about the injury, death, or property damage caused to someone else, but you willfully failed to stop at the accident scene and did not stay there to give identifying information or provide reasonable assistance to someone injured at the scene if that seemed to be needed or was requested.

The penalties for a hit and run conviction depend on the harm that was caused. It is a third-degree felony to leave the scene if the crash caused injuries to someone else. You may face a maximum term of imprisonment for five years and a fine of $5,000. If the crash involved someone else's death, it is a first-degree felony to commit a hit and run. You can face a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

If it is discovered that you committed a hit and run and were driving under the influence at the time, the judge must sentence you to a mandatory minimum term of two years, and your driver’s license will be revoked.

Some common defenses that you might be able to raise to a hit and run charge include a lack of knowledge that a crash occurred, a lack of knowledge that there was a crash involving people or property, evidence that the other driver became aggressive, evidence that the failure to stop was not willful, or evidence that the assistance provided was reasonable. Sometimes it is possible to negotiate a resolution with the prosecutor that would avoid a criminal record and jail time, while in other cases, it may be possible to raise a reasonable doubt about one or more of the elements.

Retain a Skillful Hit and Run Defense Attorney in the Tampa Area

If you are accused of leaving the scene of an accident or of reckless driving or any other motor vehicle offense, you should retain an attorney. Our founder, Tampa lawyer Will Hanlon, has provided a tough, aggressive defense to people accused of crimes since 1994. Call Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or use our online form to set up your appointment.