The Florida Highway Patrol is reporting a state wide increase in the number of hit and run crashes. In 2015, there were 92,000 hit and run related crashes investigated by law enforcement in the State of Florida. The Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach areas have also seen their fair share of increases in hit and run crashes. In most cases, Florida makes it a crime to leave the scene of an accident. The nature and extent of property damage and/or personal injury will determine whether or not law enforcement will pursue either misdemeanor or felony charges.
Why do people leave? Some people leave out of pure fear or panic. Others have attendant legal issues that will create additional legal troubles if they stay. Common examples are not having a valid driver’s license, having a suspended driver’s license, no insurance, an outstanding arrest warrant for an unrelated case or immigration related concerns. Often times, people may leave the scene of an accident if they are under the influence or alcohol or a controlled substance and they fear being investigated for Driving Under the Influence.
As a result of the spike, law enforcement has become increasingly aggressive in their pursuit of investigating hit and run cases. More often than not, a witness will obtain a tag number and a description of the fleeing vehicle. These reports usually result in an unexpected visit by law enforcement to the address listed for the reported vehicle’s owner. Police agencies in the West Palm and Fort Lauderdale areas have also been known to mail very intimidating letters demanding a response within ten (10) days of receipt. These letters normally originate from the department’s “traffic homicide division” (even in cases not involving fatalities) and threaten a driver’s license suspension and other action for failure to comply.