Statistics show that hit and run accidents are increasing in Florida. Part of the reason may be lesser penalties for drivers who flee the scene in cases in which alcohol is a factor. Despite a recent change in the law that increases the penalty for drivers who flee the scene of an accident involving a death, it is still almost impossible for law enforcement to prove intoxication in hit and run accidents if the driver is able to go home and sober up before an arrest is made. Sadly, drivers who are faced with the decision to stay at an accident scene and assist an injured party or leave the scene may not always make the right choice, particularly when they know they may face imprisonment if the accident resulted from driving while intoxicated.
Especially Vulnerable Victims
While any hit and run accident is a tragedy, those involving ‘vulnerable road users’ are especially frightening. Pedestrians, for example, are one of the most vulnerable groups of road users as they have little, if any, protection from harm in the event of an accident. The news is filled with reports of accidents, such as this story of a young man injured in a hit and run accident while walking on a roadway near a college campus. Florida Statute 316.027 sets forth the law with respect to crashes involving death or personal injuries, the driver’s responsibilities when involved in such an accident, and the penalties for not following the law regarding their responsibilities. The law provides that the offense will be ranked one level higher if the victim of the offense was a vulnerable road user. The law further defines a vulnerable road user as any of the following:
- A pedestrian, including a person actually engaged in work upon a highway, or in work upon utility facilities along a highway, or engaged in the provision of emergency services within the right-of-way;
- A person operating a bicycle, motorcycle, scooter, or moped lawfully on the roadway;
- A person riding an animal; or
- A person lawfully operating on a public right-of-way, crosswalk, or shoulder of the roadway a farm vehicle, skateboard, skates, horse-drawn carriage, electric personal assistive mobility device, or wheelchair.
Do The Right Thing
Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is part of a campaign that aims to reduce the number of hit and run crashes in Florida. The hope is that this may be accomplished by educating drivers on their responsibilities if they are involved in a crash and the consequences they face if they leave a crash scene. Easy to remember, CRASH stands for the steps a driver should follow if they are involved in a crash:
- CALL law enforcement.
- REMAIN calm.
- ATTAIN vehicle, witness and driver information.
- SKETCH the scene, showing vehicle crash locations.
- HELP the injured.
Take Action To Get Relief If You Have Been Involved In An Accident
If you have been injured in an auto accident, you need to learn your rights. Each case is unique and results hinge upon the individual facts at issue. Contact a legal professional today who will help you understand what you are entitled to, based on the specific facts of your case, and how to get the relief you deserve.