According to the Department of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there have been 102,756 total hit and run crashes in the State of Florida between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018. These hit and run crashes resulted in 21,511 injuries and 215 fatalities. The Lady Lake Police Department has responded to 61 hit and run crashes in 2019, three involving injuries and one fatality.
In Florida, anyone driving a vehicle involved in a crash is legally required to stop at the scene of an accident and provide the following information to the other driver or anyone else involved. You must provide this information whether the other person is a passenger, pedestrian or cyclist.
- Vehicle registration number
- Driver’s license or permit, if available
Florida’s laws also require drivers to provide their licenses to police on the scene and provide “reasonable aid” if necessary. This may include physically carrying an injured person away from the crash, if possible, calling 911 or transporting someone to the hospital (See Florida State Statute 316.062).
If a driver fails to do any of the above before leaving the scene of an accident, they have committed a hit-and-run.
The consequences of fleeing the scene of an accident are dependent on the severity of the accident. Leaving the scene of a crash that caused property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Leaving the scene of a crash with injuries can be classified as a second- or third-degree felony punishable by a revoked license for at least three years, up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The worst-case scenario, a death, is a first-degree felony punishable by a revoked license for at least three years, a mandatory minimum of four years in prison, a maximum of 30 years in prison, and a $10,000 fine.
If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run, your first concern should be your safety and the safety of your passengers: Make sure everyone is safe, move your car to a safe location out of the flow of traffic and call the police to report the hit-and-run.
Under no circumstances should you pursue someone who has committed a hit-and-run. The dangers of a car chase far outweigh the benefits of identifying them. However, it is a good idea to make note of every detail you can about the incident, including the following:
- Car make, model and color
- Unique or identifying marks on the car, like bumper stickers or dents.
- Car’s license plate number.
- Driver’s appearance.
- Circumstances of the crash.
Do your best to gather information even if the other car has already fled when you arrive. For example, look for a piece of their car that has broken off, like a mirror or bumper. You should also ask any nearby businesses if they have security cameras that may have captured the incident. When the police arrive, they will likely ask for you for the same information in order to investigate the crash.
The Lady Lake Police Department is urging drivers that are involved in a crash to remain at the scene and provide their information or call for help. The most important thing a driver can do when they are involved in a crash is to stay at the scene and call for help.