This past spring, the Miami Herald ran a story about the increasing number of hit and run crashes in Florida. The numbers are alarming. Most of these incidents occur in highly populated areas. In 2013, there were 78,661 cases of hit and run, according to statistics released by the Florida Highway Patrol. By 2016, that number had increased significantly, to nearly 100,000.
Factors Contributing to Increased Hit and Run Cases
Even though fatalities related to hit and run accidents are dropping, the number of incidents is rising. According to the story in the Herald, the increase could possibly be connected to lack of immigration status, and people trying to avoid the more severe DUI penalties.
In the case of immigrants being involved in these types of accidents, when they are undocumented, they cannot obtain a license or insurance. When an accident occurs, they are more likely to flee the scene out of fear of being detained and deported, even though Florida law states that they must remain at the scene of the accident.
DUI penalties include fines of not less than $500 or more than $1,000 on the first conviction. From there they increase according to the time between offenses and the breath alcohol level. Having a minor in the vehicle at the time increases the penalties even more. Other penalties, like community service, possible imprisonment and more are also levied on guilty parties.
Hit and run penalties are steep, as well. For property damage, a person can get up to two months in prison and a $500 fine along with a second-degree misdemeanor charge. If injuries are inflicted, the charge becomes a second or third-degree felony and the driver’s licensed is revoked for no less than three years. Prison terms can be as long as five years, and the fine can be $5,000.
If someone dies as a result of a hit and run, the responsible driver can expect to be charged with a first-degree felony and spend at least four years in prison. There will also be a fine of $10,000. The fact that the driver’s license will be revoked for at least three years doesn’t matter that much when prison time can be up to 30 years.
In 2016, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles initiated a Hit and Run Campaign to bring awareness of the problem to Florida residents. The objective for the campaign included holding a minimum of three Hit and Run press conferences throughout the state, having at least five news stories, working with the media in counties most affected by hit and run accidents, having a positive presence on social media and driving traffic to the Hit and Run campaign webpage. The campaign was successful in meeting all its objectives.
Now an annual event, the Hit, and Run Campaign serve as a means for giving a public voice to the families who have been victimized by a hit and run drivers. Although it hasn’t changed the statistics much, there is hope the campaign will change laws, making it easier to identify and punish those who leave the scene of an accident.
The aftermath of a hit and run accident reverberates through the years. Regardless of whether a death has occurred or a serious injury, the results affect the victim’s loved ones in many ways. In those cases where the perpetrator is never found, loved ones have difficulty finding closure, making the situation even worse.
The lawyers at Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A., are here to stand by you if you or a loved one has suffered from personal injury. We are the lawyers who care about our clients, and we provide superb legal assistance to those who seek our services. Residents of North Port, Port Charlotte, Englewood, and surrounding areas can depend on us for their personal injury legal requirements. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.