Like in other states, Florida law usually requires motorists who have been in an accident to remain at the scene. This requirement gives officers sufficient time to respond and drivers an opportunity to exchange information. If the accident results in serious injury or death, motorists also typically have a duty to render aid.
Leaving the scene of an accident that causes a fatality is a first-degree felony in Florida. This charge may be in addition to charges for vehicular homicide or manslaughter. Upon conviction, you may spend up to 30 years behind bars and pay a stiff fine. There are some defenses to charges for leaving the scene of a crash, though.
A lack of knowledge
For you to be legally culpable for leaving the scene of an accident, you must know an accident happened. Stated differently, if you did not know the accident occurred, you may not be guilty of the crime. Likewise, offering proof you thought the crash only involved property and not people also may be beneficial.
A safety risk
When vehicles collide, their drivers often experience a range of emotions. If another driver becomes aggressive or threatens to harm you, it may be reasonable to leave the scene of the accident. The steps you take after departing, however, may determine whether this defense is feasible.
A loss of control
To be guilty of leaving the scene of an accident in Florida, your actions must be willful. If, for example, someone places you in another vehicle and drives you away from the accident scene, your inability to control your presence at the scene may make a difference.
Ultimately, because of the serious nature of leaving the scene of a fatal collision, you may need to present a multi-faceted defense or try to negotiate an acceptable plea deal to minimize your legal consequences.