Articles Posted in Hit and Run

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.

leaving-the-sceneWhy 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.

As our Palm Beach and Broward County hit-and-run attorneys know, such cases aren’t always as straightforward as they might seem.
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Last week, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that in order for someone to be convicted of leaving the scene of a crash involving an injury, the prosecution must prove that the person had “actual knowledge” they were in a crash in the first place.

This important ruling by the Court will certainly influence how individuals accused of leaving the scene of an accident will fight the charges against them and how people previously convicted of the crime might be able to appeal their convictions.
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Incidents of Florida hit-and-runs are fast increasing, according the Florida Highway Patrol, which has kicked off an awareness campaign enlisting statewide media. steeringwheel1.jpg

Our Broward hit-and-run defense attorneys know that the charge is a gravely serious one that, per Florida Statute 316.062 and Florida Statute 316.027 can be punished with anything from a non-criminal traffic violations (in instances with minimal damage and no injury) all the way up to a first-degree felony, punishable by life in prison (in instances involving death). It is absolutely critical in these cases for individuals to seek the counsel of an experienced traffic defense lawyer. If you can do so prior to your arrest, even better. The earlier we can get started on a case, the better our chances of a favorable outcome.

The state highway patrol is reporting that last year, Broward ranked No. 2 in the state for hit-and-run crashes, tallying a total of nearly 7,860, representing an 8 percent increase from the year before.

It follows just behind Miami-Dade County, which ranked No. 1 – and that was even with a 15 percent annual decrease in 2012. Last year, the county racked up nearly 12,815 hit-and-run crashes, while the previous year there were about 15,230.

Combined, these two counties comprised about 30 percent of the statewide total hit-and-runs, which neared 70,000 last year.

Palm Beach County did not rank among the top five, but authorities there tabulated a slight increase too, from about 3,370 in 2011 up to 3,380 in 2012.

The number of fatalities in these instances climbed as well, albeit slightly. There were 168 hit-and-run deaths counted in Florida last year, compared to 162 in 2011. Another 17,000 people were injured. Among those, three-fifths were pedestrians.

In many of cases involving pedestrian hit-and-runs, we know that drivers simply may not have realized that the object they struck was a person, particularly if the scene was dark and the individual was wearing dark clothing.

Some survivor families express anger that in some cases, it doesn’t seem as if the driver even made an attempt to stop, noting the absence of skid marks at the scenes. But that just further supports the position that in many cases, drivers simply don’t know they’ve hit someone. It won’t always completely absolve the driver of blame in the case, but it can go a long way toward reducing the penalties.

Additionally, if the individual struck was intoxicated at the time or acting illegally (such as improperly crossing the roadway), that can also serve to bolster your defense.

Drivers may also make the split-second call to flee if they are impaired or don’t have a license or insurance or are an illegal immigrant.

In Florida, drivers have a statutory duty to give information and render aid, regardless of whether anyone was injured. No matter what your situation, we are committed to helping you fight the charges.
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Authorities with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office are scouring the Oakland Park area for an individual who reportedly fatally struck a 17-year-old bicyclist and then fled. bikewreck.jpg

Our Broward hit-and-run attorneys know that there are a number of reasons why someone would leave the scene of an accident with injuries.

First, it’s entirely possible that the driver didn’t realize they had struck a human being. This is often the case for hit-and-run incidents that happen at night or on poorly lit roads.

Secondly, there may have been a medical condition to blame. Just take the example of the federal commerce secretary who was cited for felony hit-and-run in California recently. As it turned out, he had suffered a series of seizures that resulted in his loss of vehicle control.

Thirdly, fear is a big factor for a lot of people involved in hit-and-runs. There are cases in which a person may have been drinking, and there is the fear of being arrested for DUI-related charges. But for a lot of people, the intensity of the entire situation causes them to panic. They aren’t clearly thinking it through.

We certainly understand this, particularly given that under FL Statute 316.027, the offense is a third-degree felony, carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison. However, it is very important that you contact a defense lawyer as soon as possible – before even turning yourself into police. The reason for this is two-fold:

1. It ensures your safety during the process.
2. It allows you the opportunity to speak to your lawyer before you say anything to police, who are going to want to question you immediately and possibly have you submit to chemical testing. You don’t want to do any of this before speaking with your attorney.

It’s noteworthy too that media reports of hit-and-run incidents can be incredibly biased. Just take for example the story of this Oakland Park case. The reporter began the story by saying that the motorist, “turned their car into a weapon, used it to kill a man and then, used it to flee as the victim died.” An inflammatory statement like this fails to take into consideration any extenuating circumstances that may exist in this case.

Let’s take a look at what we do know of this case:

The 17-year-old El Salvador native was reportedly riding his bicycle home after playing soccer in the park. He was reportedly crossing the street near Powerline Road and was struck as he was making his way across the crosswalk.

An ambulance transported him to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Investigators have said that the driver reportedly got out for a moment and then drove away.

It’s unclear how many witnesses there were to the crash, but it seems they did not get a good look at the driver. They were unable to identify whether it was a male or female. However, they have indicated the vehicle was a late-90s model, light blue Chevrolet or GMC pick up truck or sport utility vehicle.
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Fort Lauderdale hit-and-run cases don’t discriminate. road.jpg

Defense attorneys know their are many factors — and clients range from violent offenders to successful professionals.

The latter was the case recently in Seminole County, where a well-known chiropractor was charged with leaving the scene of a crash in which a Fort Myers female motorcyclist was killed.

Now, it may seem that criminals might be more likely to flee a crash. However, the pattern we’ve observed in some of these cases is that professionals tend to feel they have more to lose. And, of course, those who have no experience with the criminal justice system often panic and flee the scene before coming to their senses.

It’s not a matter of being cold-hearted. In many of these instances, the driver doesn’t realize the extent of the damage or injuries or may simply be unsure of what his or her responsibilities are.

Particularly in cases where a motorcycle and inclement weather were involved (as is alleged to be the case here) the driver may not even be certain that they’ve been in an accident. That may seem far-fetched, but it happens more often than you might think.

Florida hit-and-run crashes involving injury or death are spelled out in Florida Statute 316.027. Basically, what that law says is that if you are involved in a crash in which there was any type of injury – be it on public or private property – you must stop right away, either at the scene of the crash or as close as possible to it. You must remain there until fulfilling the requirements spelled out in Florida Statute 316.062, which states that you must render aid (in the form of “reasonable assistance”) to the injured parties and you must provide your information. Providing your information does not necessarily mean giving your side of the story about what happened in a crash, and particularly if you may be at fault, you should refrain from doing so. Providing your information simply means that you give your name, address, registration number of the vehicle and license.

The only time you are excused from these duties is under Florida Statute 316.064, which indicates that you are not legally responsible for these duties if you are physically incapable of doing so.

Usually, however, if you are able to drive away, you are seen as legally fit to complete these duties.

In this case, the road conditions that day were rainy on State Road 415, near New Smyrna Beach. A vehicle allegedly struck hers from behind, and the impact was said to have knocked her into oncoming traffic. She was then struck by two other vehicles whose drivers reportedly could not avoid impact. The motorcyclist’s husband reportedly witnessed the crash, and provided a statement to Florida Highway Patrol investigators alleging that the doctor, who had been driving a large, luxury sport utility vehicle, hit his wife without stopping to render aid.

But there’s something about this scenario that just seems off. First of all, doctors take an oath, pledging to do no harm. Failing to stop to help an accident victim when you have the medical expertise to do so seems unlikely. And secondly, this doctor advertised on his website that he plays a large role in helping auto accident victims recover.

It’s just worth pointing out that the actions here don’t seem to coincide with the other details we know of the defendant – and that could be an important point for the defense.

If convicted, the doctor faces up to 30 years in prison.
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White_Porsche_FL.jpgFort Lauderdale police have apprehended a 35-year-old Porsche owner suspected in a deadly hit-and-run accident. The driver is now in the Broward County Jail without bond. Our Broward County Traffic attorneys deal with leaving the scene of an accident and hot and run all the time, but what’s interesting about this case is that the police teamed up with the United States Secret Service to analyze the man’s cell phone records and determine his whereabouts.

Charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of leaving the scene of a traffic fatality, the defendant faces up to 15 years in prison on each vehicular homicide charge.

Police in Broward County are increasingly using cell phone records to investigate suspects. Some consider this method of evidence-gathering to be a privacy issue. In fact, there’s a case before the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in which attorneys are arguing that prosecutors need to show “reasonable grounds” to get cell phone records if those records are believed to be relevant to an investigation.

Source: Secret Service helped crack Porsche hit-and-run, police records show, South Florida Sun Sentinel, March 20, 2010 Continue reading

Our Miami-Dade traffic attorneys have learned that police arrested former NY Giants player Lawrence Taylor last night for allegedly leaving the scene of an accident. The 50-year-old ex-football great was involved in a car accident on the Palmetto Expressway around 6:45pm.

The Florida Highway Patrol says responding officers issued an alert for a “white vehicle missing the front right tire.” They found Taylor and his vehicle just off the next exit on the Palmetto. Taylor claimed he knew he’d been in a crash but thought he hit a guardrail and not another vehicle.

Police booked the driver into jail at 9:57pm on charges of leaving the scene of an accident and later released him on $500 bond. Both vehicles sustained significant damage but there were no injuries reported.

 
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Source: Ex-NFL great Lawrence Taylor charged with leaving Miami-Dade crash scene, South Florida Sun Sentinel, November 9, 2009 Continue reading

Florida_car_crash.jpgA man believed to be a corporate pilot is charged with hit and run and failing to stop at a car crash involving injury. Sigurd Henriksen, 49,reportedly led police on a 100 mph chase down State Road A1A in South Palm Beach and Manalapan on Sunday morning, injuring two passengers. He then crashed his company’s 2004 Bentley into a guardrail at Chillingworth Curve. Police clocked his speed at 105 mph.

After crashing the car, Henricksen fled the scene of the accident, according to police. The two injured passengers were transported to Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boynton Beach for treatment. Both had minor cuts, and the woman suffered a broken arm.

The driver, who is originally from Kristiansand, Norway, turned himself in to Manalapan police after they contacted the owner of the Bentley. He is being held in lieu of $5,000 bond.

Another accident involving a Bentley occurred last Thursday. Police said neither car had evidence of open containers.

Police charge Bentley driver clocked at more than 100 mph along A1A in Manalapan, South Palm Beach, PalmBeachPost.com, May 12, 2009 Continue reading

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