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Florida Hit-and-Run Laws: Everything You Need to Know

Florida hit-and-run laws are written with the intention of reducing the incidents of hit-and-run vehicle accidents. They include some of the harshest penalties in the country. However,

hit-and-runs still account for approximately 25% of the accidents across Florida. Many people make mistakes and get afraid and leave the scene.

Leaving the scene of an accident in Florida can result in serious consequences. Understanding the legal implications and what an individual may face if this occurs is crucial. The severity of the accident will matter.

  • Is there only property damage? 
  • Did anyone get hurt? 
  • Was there a fatality?

Florida hit-and-run laws detail what would be a misdemeanor and what would be a felony. Each of these comes with its own penalties, including potential fines, jail time, and other consequences.

About Florida Hit-and-Run Laws

Under Florida law, you could be charged with a hit-and-run if you leave the scene of an accident before exchanging information with the other driver or fail to render appropriate medical aid to anyone injured.

Leaving the scene of an accident in Florida is illegal and can lead to criminal charges.

When you are the driver in a vehicle accident, Florida hit-and-run laws require you to give your information to the other driver, including:

  • name,
  • address,
  • vehicle registration number, and upon request,
  • driver’s license.

This information would also be given to law enforcement when the police are present.

You are also required to stay in case someone needs medical help. 911 may need to be called to get appropriate medical personnel to the scene. Florida law on hit and run with injury details serious penalties, including felony charges.

Types of Hit-and-Run Offenses in Florida

Types of Hit-and-Run Offenses in Florida

Many hit-and-runs involve property damage only. However, some do include injuries or even fatalities, which is why Florida hit-and-run laws are strict.

In 2014, Florida amended their hit-and-run laws after a hit-and-run driver killed a cyclist and father of two. Named the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, this statute outlined more severe penalties for leaving the scene of an accident in Florida.

There are three types of hit-and-run offenses in the state. Leaving the scene of a crash with one of the following:

  1. Property Damage – Type of offense: Second-degree Misdemeanor; Potential Penalties: Up to 60 days in imprisonment and a $500 fine.
  2. Injuries: Type of offense: Second-or third-degree felony, depending on the severity of the injuries; Potential Penalties: Revoked license for at least 3 years, from 5 – 15 years imprisonment, and $5,000 – $10,000 fine.
  3. Fatalities: Type of offense: First-degree felony; Potential Penalties: Revoked license for at least 3 years, mandatory minimum of 4 years in prison, up to 30 years in prison, and a $10,000 fine.

As you can see, the hit-and-run penalty in Florida can be very severe, particularly if injuries or fatalities occur. An individual who leaves the scene of an accident, even if they are just scared or confused, could be in serious legal jeopardy.

Navigating the Legal Process After a Florida Hit-and-Run

After a hit-and-run, if physically able, the driver who is left at the scene will typically contact law enforcement. They will attempt to gather evidence, take photos, and seek out any witnesses to what happened. Their car insurance company will be contacted to deal with property damage to the vehicle and to cover medical costs associated with any injuries. An investigation will begin to determine what happened and to try to locate the hit-and-run driver.

If someone has been involved in leaving the scene of an accident, it is advised to seek legal representation as soon as possible. With the potential consequences of Florida hit-and-run laws, consulting a criminal defense lawyer to determine your next steps is key.

 Penalties and Punishments of a Florida Hit-and-Run

 Penalties and Punishments of a Florida Hit-and-Run

If convicted of a hit-and-run in Florida, you may lose your ability to drive, be faced with significant fines, and lose your freedom for a long time.

Even if there was exclusively property damage, you would have a second-degree misdemeanor on your record if convicted and could go to jail for up to two months, even if it is your first time facing criminal charges.

Injuries associated with a hit-and-run that are not considered “serious” under the law would still amount to a third-degree felony. A serious bodily injury involves a condition with a substantial risk of death, severe personal disfigurement, or a protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ and would be a second-degree felony. These both come with high fines, jail time, and loss of driver’s license. The consequences of fatalities are the most serious.

Defending Yourself Against Hit-and-Run Charges in Florida

Common defenses used to prove innocence in hit-and-run cases that attorneys may use:

  • The driver was not negligent. Even if you did leave the scene of an accident, if you can prove that your actions did not amount to gross negligence, charges may be reduced or potentially dropped.
  • The defendant did not intend to leave the scene of the accident. Depending on what occurred before your departure, mitigating circumstances may be present that could affect the case outcome.

If convicted, the fines associated with hit-and-runs, particularly if there are injuries or fatalities, can cause real financial hardship. A driver’s license’s loss can cause work and personal difficulties. Imprisonment and having a criminal record impact your freedom and future in many ways.

With the serious consequences of a conviction, seeking professional legal help is extremely important.

When to Contact an Attorney

Understanding Florida hit-and-run laws is crucial if you are facing charges. The state takes hit-and-runs very seriously, especially leaving the scene of an accident with an injury or fatality. You could be facing danger to your freedom and your future. Stay informed and be safe on the roads.

If you find yourself involved in a hit-and-run case, contact The Denson Firm today to seek legal assistance for criminal cases.

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