Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida

Traffic Ticket Attorneys Orlando

Nobody expects to crash when they go out; however, the need to drive in Orlando makes car accidents all the more likely to occur. While the shock of a crash might impact your immediate decision making, leaving the scene is a criminal offense.

After being in a car accident, you should pull over to the roadside, if possible, and stay at the scene until you exchange driver’s license and insurance information with the other party or until a police officer arrives. If you leave the scene of an accident before providing any contact information, a criminal investigation may begin.

If you left the accident scene, reach out to the traffic violation attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm. We represent clients throughout the Central Florida area. Be sure to contact us before a police officer questions you about the crash; our team can advise you throughout questioning and represent you throughout the entire case.

We can also help you deal with questions from your insurance company as they attempt to settle any potential civil claim against you. It’s crucial to remember that you should never make a statement to law enforcement or insurance company representatives without speaking to an attorney first.

You’re Required by Law to Report Accidents

If the owner of the property you hit with your car is present, you must provide them with your name, contact information, driver’s license information, and insurance policy information. If the owner is not present, you are required to report the accident to law enforcement. Leaving a note is not enough, as it can be blown away or removed by someone else.

If you leave the scene of an accident without taking the required actions, you could face criminal charges. We represent people accused of fleeing the scene of accidents that led to:

  • Property damage
  • Accidents involving injury
  • Accidents involving death

If any person was injured in the accident, you must call 911 so they can receive the proper medical treatment.

What Are the Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime. In addition to possible jail time and fines, court officials may order revocation or suspension of your driver’s license. The type of charge depends on whether:

  • Unattended property was damaged
  • Attended property was damaged
  • A person suffered an injury
  • A person died as a result of the accident

Additionally, you may face mandatory sentencing if you were under the influence when the accident occurred. Outlined below are the potential charges with the penalties they may bring if you are convicted.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident after Hitting Unattended Property

Most charges for this crime are filed after a person hits a parked car, causing more than $50 worth of damage, and leaves the scene. Florida Statute 316.063 states you must remain at the scene after hitting unattended property or vehicles when damage occurs. Violating this statute may be filed as a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida, which may be punishable by a fine of up to $500, court costs, and up to six months probation or up to 60 days in jail.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Damage to Attended Property

Violations of Florida Statute 316.061 typically occur when a person hits another vehicle with a driver or a passenger inside and leaves the scene before exchanging information. Charges may be filed as a second-degree misdemeanor. If convicted, you may face up to six months of probation, up to 60 days in jail, or a fine up to $500 plus any court costs.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury or Death

Under Florida Statute 316.027, it’s illegal to leave the scene of an accident that caused an injury or death. It also states that you must stay at the location until you exchange all information or until law enforcement arrives and the injured party is treated or taken to a hospital.

A prosecutor may file this charge as a third-degree felony, which may include up to five years in prison.

The statute also addresses the situation if an accident victim dies due to their injuries from the accident. Leaving the scene of an accident that involved the death of another person may be filed as a first-degree felony under section 316.027(1)(b), which may be punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident while Driving Under the Influence

If a court convicts you of leaving the scene of an accident that involved injury or death while you were driving under the influence, the court must impose a mandatory minimum two-year sentence in prison. This is on top of any other penalties you may receive if convicted.

Defenses to Leaving the Scene of an Accident

There are many defenses the attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm can use to contest the charge of leaving the scene of an accident or to minimize potential penalties. Some of the more common defenses are:

  • Dispute to the driver’s identity
  • Lack of knowledge the crash occurred
  • Other circumstances dictated the failure to stop
  • The other driver refused to receive information
  • The other driver became belligerent, demanding the defendant leave the scene to call the police

If there is no viable defense for your case, a charge does not always mean a conviction. Your attorney may be able to make early contact with the prosecution to negotiate a more lenient resolution to the case, one that may avoid or reduce the amount of jail time, probation, or fines.

Can I Be Charged If I Witnessed an Accident and Left?

If you witnessed an accident and left the scene, don’t panic. You’re not legally obligated to stay. However, it is the right thing to do, especially if the accident occurred in a parking lot or on a non-busy street. If the other driver left the scene, you might have to call 911 so the injured victim can receive medical treatment. Additionally, the people involved in the accident may need you to testify in court.

It’s not expected for a witness to change their entire schedule around an accident they weren’t involved in, but if you have a minute to spare, your support may save a victim’s life.

Contact an Orlando Criminal Traffic Attorney

If you’re accused of the severe crime of leaving the scene of an accident, you must contact an attorney immediately. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. Having an attorney represent you is the best option. In central Florida, a top choice for criminal defense is William D. Umansky of The Umansky Law Firm. He is the firm’s Managing Partner and leads a team of lawyers dedicated to successfully defending every client.

Attorney Umansky has appeared in many national media outlets and actively participates in several legal organizations. He is a firm believer that everyone deserves a second chance, and will fight for yours.

Call (407) 228-3838 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free consultation.