I just got into a car accident and struck a person. I’m nervous and I don’t know what to do. What can happen to me if I just drive away? What will happen if I stop? This scenario can have serious consequences if you make the wrong decision. Under Florida Statute 316.027, a driver involved in an accident must stop their vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close to the scene of the crash as safely possible. When stopping, you should avoid obstructing the flow of traffic and stay off the roadway as much as possible to avoid any further accidents or injuries caused by moving traffic near the scene. If the accident resulted in bodily injury or property damage, you are required by Florida law to provide your name, address, and the registration number of your vehicle to the other party involved. You are also required to contact 911 for emergency medical services if someone is injured and unable to call for themselves.
Once an accident happens, you are faced with two choices: Comply with the law and stay at the scene, or drive away. While being involved in an accident is scary and upsetting, especially if you think you may have been at fault, you will likely not face any criminal charges if you stay at the scene unless you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you were at fault for the accident and remain on the scene, you may receive a civil traffic citation, which can result in fines and points on your license. Most collisions result in four points being added to your license, although you may be eligible to have them waived if you complete a driver education course. As long as you have not incurred 12 or more points in a 12-month period, 18 points within 18 months, or 24 points within 36 months, pay your traffic fines and were not driving under the influence, your license should not be suspended due to the accident.
Leaving the scene of an accident, or a ‘hit and run’ as it is commonly referred to, can result in criminal charges and serious consequences. Leaving the scene of an accident with property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500. If injuries occurred it becomes a third-degree felony and can result in having your license revoked for at least three years, up to five years in prison, and a $5,000 fine. Leaving the scene of a fatality can result in a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison, with sentences as high as thirty years, and a $10,000 fine. The criminal charges for leaving the scene can be imposed in addition to any civil traffic citations you may face as a result of the accident. While it may seem like a good idea to just continue driving away from the scene of the accident to try and avoid the consequences, a hit and run will only add to the issues you are already facing. Staying on the scene is always the right decision to make.