It’s common knowledge that if you cause a car accident, it’s illegal to just drive away. But what many people don’t realize is that in Florida, it’s illegal to drive away from any accident that causes injury or property damage – even if you aren’t the one responsible for it.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re driving in Florida, and another driver swerves into your lane and crashes into your car. If no one is hurt, and the only damage is vehicular, then both you and the other driver are required under Florida Statute 316.061 to immediately stop at the scene of the crash (or as close to the scene of the crash as possible.) If you were to drive away, you would be guilty of a second degree misdemeanor – even if the accident was entirely the other driver’s fault.
If someone was hurt in the accident, failure to stop becomes a much more serious charge. Under Florida Statute 316.027, failure to stop after an accident that causes someone a non-serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony. If the bodily injury is serious, failure to stop is a second-degree felony. And if the accident results in a death, failure to stop is a first-degree felony, with a mandatory minimum prison term of four years.
When you stop after an accident, you are expected to make the stop in a way that obstructs traffic as little as possible. If your vehicle is damaged, 316.061 requires you to move it, or arrange to have it moved, to a place where it does not block the regular flow of traffic. Employees of the Florida Department of Transportation are authorized to move vehicles that are incapacitated due to a crash, or debris from a crash. They are only permitted to do this, however, if no one was injured in the crash.
After You Stop
Once you’ve stopped after an accident, you are required by Florida Statute 316.062 to provide certain information if it is requested by someone who was injured, or was attending any property that was damaged (such as a vehicle). This information includes your name, your address, and the registration number of the vehicle you were driving. You are also required to show them your drivers license or permit. Failure to provide this information upon request is a nonmoving violation, rather than a criminal offense.
If someone is injured in the accident, you may be required to help them obtain medical attention. If the person who has been injured requests to be carried to a physician, surgeon or hospital – or if it is apparent that the person needs to be carried to a physician, surgeon, or hospital – you are required to provide reasonable assistance. This could mean carrying the person yourself, or making arrangements for someone else to do it.
If You’ve Been Accused
The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident can be quite severe – even if the accident was not your fault. An experienced defense attorney, like Mark S. Lowry of Fort Lauderdale, can help you fight these charges. You can contact the office today by phone, or by email.