Black Friday is coming tomorrow which means that there are going to be people everywhere. Shopping malls, shopping plazas and all roads leading to and from them are going to be packed with drivers braving the crowds to get a head start on their holiday gift lists. This usually means a lot of parking lot fender benders with people leaving the area to be the first on line to Buy! Buy! Buy! Unfortunately, whenever there are large crowds, there are often lots of police and plenty of witnesses around to take down your information. To most people, traffic misdemeanors and infractions don’t seem that serious, but they can be.
Around this time of year I see a lot cases involving leaving the scene of a crash with property damage. This is sometimes called a “Hit and Run”. Florida law makes it a crime to leave the scene of a crash when there is damage done to another’s vehicle or property. Leaving the Scene of a crash in Florida is a misdemeanor. The criminal penalties can be up to 60 days in jail, 6 months of probation and a fine up to $500.00. If the criminal penalties are not bad enough, a conviction for Leaving the Scene of a Crash can negatively affect on your insurance and driving record. Most of the time, a charge for Leaving the Scene of a Crash involves one vehicle striking another unoccupied parked vehicle and then driving away.
Florida law requires drivers involved in a crash to stop and attempt to locate or notify the other vehicle’s or property owner. Drivers are required to hand over personal information including name and address, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and insurance information. If the owner of the damaged property is nowhere to be found, the driver who caused the crash must attach a note with this information on a secure and conspicuous place or in the vehicle. The driver is then supposed to report said incident to the local police. If you bump into another car, cause damage and the other driver is not present, follow those steps and you will surely avoid a criminal charge for leaving the scene of a crash. Good advice would be to take pictures of the damage and your note and email them to yourself right away to avoid losing it.
Of course, if you are approached if you were in a crash, left the scene and are now being questioned by law enforcement in reference to allegations that you committed a Hit and Run, do not speak to the police without talking to a criminal defense attorney first.
Attorneys are available 24 hours a day (Yes, even Thanksgiving or Black Friday) to answer questions regarding Hit and Run or any other type of traffic, misdemeanor or felony charge. Remember, even fish would not get caught if they kept their mouth shut.