Will I be charged if I leave the scene of a car accident?
What are my legal obligations at the scene of a car accident?
In Florida, if you are involved in an accident, you have certain obligations. These are set out in a few Florida Statutes. The first of these is Section 316.062. It describes the requirements when you are involved in an accident with either injury or property damage. That statute provides:
316.062 Duty to give information and render aid.—
(1) The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any person or damage to any vehicle or other property which is driven or attended by any person shall give his or her name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving, and shall upon request and if available exhibit his or her license or permit to drive, to any person injured in such crash or to the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle or other property damaged in the crash and shall give such information and, upon request, exhibit such license or permit to any police officer at the scene of the crash or who is investigating the crash and shall render to any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if such carrying is requested by the injured person.
(2) In the event that none of the persons specified are in a condition to receive the information to which they otherwise would be entitled under subsection (1), and no police officer is present, the driver of any vehicle involved in such crash, after fulfilling all other requirements of s. 316.027 and subsection (1), insofar as possible on his or her part to be performed, shall forthwith report the crash to the nearest office of a duly authorized police authority and submit thereto the information specified in subsection (1).
(3) The statutory duty of a person to make a report or give information to a law enforcement officer making a written report relating to a crash shall not be construed as extending to information that would violate the privilege of such person against self-incrimination.
(4) A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318.
The requirements when you have an accident with an unattended vehicle or other property is set out in Section 316.063:
316.063 Duty upon damaging an unattended vehicle or other property.—
(1) The driver of any vehicle which collides with, or is involved in a crash with, any vehicle or other property which is unattended, resulting in any damage to such other vehicle or property, shall immediately stop and shall then and there either locate and notify the operator or owner of the vehicle or other property of the driver’s name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving, or shall attach securely in a conspicuous place in or on the vehicle or other property a written notice giving the driver’s name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving, and shall without unnecessary delay notify the nearest office of a duly authorized police authority. Any person who fails to comply with this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(2) Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. If a damaged vehicle is obstructing traffic, the driver shall make every reasonable effort to move the vehicle or have it moved so as not to obstruct the regular flow of traffic. A violation of this subsection is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318.
(3) The law enforcement officer at the scene of a crash required to be reported in accordance with the provisions of subsection (1) or the law enforcement officer receiving a report by a driver as required by subsection (1) shall, if part or any of the property damaged is a fence or other structure used to house or contain livestock, promptly make a reasonable effort to notify the owner, occupant, or agent of this damage.
Where there is death or personal injury, a driver must comply with the requirements set out in 316.027:
316.027 Crash involving death or personal injuries.—
(1)(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property that results in injury of any person must immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and must remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s. 316.062. Any person who willfully violates this paragraph commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(b) The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property that results in the death of any person must immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close thereto as possible and must remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s. 316.062. Any person who willfully violates this paragraph commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. Any person who willfully violates this paragraph while driving under the influence as set forth in s. 316.193(1) shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 2 years.
(c) Notwithstanding s. 775.089(1)(a), if the driver of a vehicle violates paragraph (a) or paragraph
(b), the court shall order the driver to make restitution to the victim for any damage or loss unless the court finds clear and compelling reasons not to order the restitution. Restitution may be monetary or nonmonetary restitution. The court shall make the payment of restitution a condition of probation in accordance with s. 948.03. An order requiring the defendant to make restitution to a victim does not remove or diminish the requirement that the court order payment to the Crimes Compensation Trust Fund under Chapter 960. Payment of an award by the Crimes Compensation Trust Fund creates an order of restitution to the Crimes Compensation Trust Fund unless specifically waived in accordance with s. 775.089(1)(b).
(2) The department shall revoke the driver’s license of the person so convicted.
(3) Every stop must be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary, and, if a damaged vehicle is obstructing traffic, the driver of the vehicle must make every reasonable effort to move the vehicle or have it moved so as not to obstruct the regular flow of traffic. Any person who fails to comply with this subsection shall be cited for a nonmoving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318.
(4) A person whose commission of a noncriminal traffic infraction or any violation of this chapter or s.1006.66 causes or results in the death of another person may, in addition to any other civil, criminal, or administrative penalty imposed, be required by the court to serve 120 community service hours in a trauma center or hospital that regularly receives victims of vehicle accidents, under the supervision of a registered nurse, an emergency room physician, or an emergency medical technician pursuant to a voluntary community service program operated by the trauma center or hospital.
(5) This section does not apply to crashes occurring during a motorsports event, as defined in s.549.10(1), or at a closed-course motorsport facility, as defined in s. 549.09(1).
These and other related statutes operate together and are more complicated than a casual reading might suggest. If you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident, you should seek legal advice from an experienced Central Florida Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Call one of our two locations at 407 743 8430 or 407-250-9557, for a prompt and free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day for your emergency needs, and appointments can be arranged for nights or weekends if necessary.