Given the driving conditions in Northeast Florida, you could say auto accidents are just waiting to happen.

If you’re unfortunate to be involved in a car accident, here’s my very important legal advice: Don’t leave.

Staying at the scene of an accident can help you avoid significant hit and run penalties that include fines, revoked licenses and jail time.

If you’ve left the scene of an accident, stop reading and please call my office immediately at (904) 567-3113—even if you haven’t been charged yet. Timely action could help reduce charges or avoid an arrest altogether.

We’ll dive deeper into the penalties plus what to do in case of an accident further in the article.

But first, let’s take a look at the auto accident stats in our area.

2016 & 2017 Car Accidents in Duval County

The roads of Duval County can be treacherous for drivers. Constant road construction and inattentive drivers seem to be always around the curve. As of February 4, 2017, we’ve seen (according to

  • 1,933 car crashes
  • Total of 1,110 crash injuries
  • Seven crash fatalities

In 2016, Duval County saw:

  • 24,102 auto accidents
  • 14,056 crash injuries
  • 155 crash fatalities

The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported that of those 2016 crashes, 7,123 were hit and runs with 52 injuries and 13 fatalities.

2016 & 2017 Car Accidents in St. Johns County

On the roads of St. Johns County—as of February 4, 2017—we’ve seen:

  • 263 car crashes
  • Total of 183 crash injuries
  • Eight crash fatalities

in 2016, St. Johns County saw:

  • 3,463 auto accidents
  • 2,230 crash injuries
  • 35 crash fatalities

The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported of those 2016 crashes, 769 were hit and runs with 3 injuries and 3 fatalities.

2016 & 2017 Car Accidents in Clay County

As of February 4, 2017—Clay County has seen:

  • 183 car crashes
  • Total of 120 crash injuries
  • 2 crash fatalities

In 2016, Clay County saw:

  • 3,023 auto accidents
  • 1,832 crash injuries
  • 25 crash fatalities

The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported of those 2016 crashes, 805 were hit and runs with 2 injuries and no fatalities.

Hit and Run Penalties in Florida

There were 8,697 hit and runs reported in Duval, St. Johns and Clay County during 2016. Each of those drivers could face the following penalties if they left the scene of an accident with:

  • Property Damage
    • Second-degree misdemeanor
    • Revoked license for at least three years
    • Up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine
  • Serious Bodily Injury
    • Second or third-degree felony
    • Revoked license for at least three years
    • Up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
  • Fatalities
    • First-degree felony
    • Revoked license for at least three years
    • Up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine

Additionally, the court could impose additional penalties such as forcing you to pay restitution to crash victims for their injuries and property damages.

Hit and runs can lead to serious criminal charges. A felony will negatively impact your employment opportunities, housing choices and other vital areas of your life.

That’s why a detailed investigation of the accident by a criminal attorney is important. Circumstances can impact your case, such as:

  • Did you have knowledge of the alleged accident?
  • Were you disoriented and confused after the accident which contributed to poor decision making?
  • Were you under the mistaken belief that debris or a foreign object was struck on the roadway and that you weren’t required to stop at the scene of the accident?
  • Was there actually injuries and damages caused by the accident?

Any weaknesses found in the state’s case could reduce your penalties—even make the hit and run a non-criminal offense.

What to Do at the Scene of an Accident

Now that we’ve discussed why you shouldn’t run from an accident, let’s talk about what to do if you’re in one.

In Florida, the law is that all drivers in an auto accident must remain at the scene until the requirements of Florida Statute 316.062 have been fulfilled.

  1. After an accident, check to see if anyone is injured and provide reasonable assistance including contacting help
  2. Contact authorities in case of injuries and damages over $500
  3. If possible, move your car if it’s obstructing traffic
  4. Provide to authorities or exchange name, address, vehicle registration number, driver license and insurance information

Pursuant to Florida Statute 316.066, commonly known as FL Accident Privilege, the law affords protection to individuals involved in a traffic crash making any statements made on scene of the accident inadmissible in a court of law.

Legislatures wanted to encourage individuals to be honest at the scene of an accident therefore the accident privilege was enacted. Be sure that any statements made to law enforcement are provided DURING the traffic crash investigation.

Whether you are charged with a crime or given a civil traffic citation stemming from an accident, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney to discuss your rights and options. If you’ve been involved in an accident—even if minor—contact our firm at (904) 567-3113.

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