Hit and Run Accidents – What You Need to Know

A recent news story involving a hit and run accident has captured a lot of attention across the Tampa Bay area recently. When a Plant High School student was visiting family in Tallahassee over Thanksgiving weekend, a car tragically struck her as she tried to cross the street and the driver fled the scene. The victim was Jacqueline Faircloth, a Plant High School senior, who suffered major head trauma, chest injuries, a broken jaw and a broken eardrum. Faircloth was in critical but stable condition at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and has experienced improvement, but continues to remain in a medically induced coma to limit brain swelling. An arrest has been made and more details continue to unravel, but it is a striking reminder of the severity of such an incident and the damage that can occur in a split second.

As for the driver of the vehicle that struck Faircloth, records indicate he had no prior criminal record in Florida. Reports indicate the driver panicked, not knowing what to do, but had the passenger traveling with the offender not come forward, police could still be searching for the perpetrator. Interestingly, hitting a pedestrian is not necessarily considered a criminal act if it is an accident and the driver stays at the scene until certain statutory duties have been fulfilled. These duties include notifying law enforcement, presenting a valid driver’s license, exchanging pertinent information and in a case where injuries are involved, provide reasonable aid to the injured party until help arrives. These requirements are covered under 316.062, the duty to give information and render aid provision. By not providing the general information required without injury, you may be charged with a civil infraction and should seek guidance from a qualified attorney. As soon as the driver leaves the scene of the accident, however, it is considered to be a hit-and-run.

Hit-and-run accidents often involve pedestrians or bicyclists – and Florida is among one of the more dangerous states in the nation for this type of accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports Florida pedestrian accidents have increased since 2012, when the number of hit-and-run crashes totaled nearly 70,000.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury

The crime of leaving the scene of an accident where serious bodily injury is involved is a second degree felony and punishable by up to 15 years in prison. If death results, it becomes a 1st degree felony punishable by up to 30 years. See Florida Statute 361.027.

If you are in a circumstance where you have fled the scene of a hit-and-run accident and would like to know options for avoiding formal conviction, attorneys at McIntyre Thanasides can help. We can guide you through your options to explore potentially reducing the charge, depending on the circumstances. In some cases, a strategy may include entering a pre-trial intervention program or making negotiations for withholding adjudication. We can also assist with trial if the facts and the case warrant it. There are several defenses to leaving the scene that may pertain to your situation. These options can be explored in more detail by speaking to one of our personal injury attorneys directly. Contact us to learn more about your legal rights when involved in a hit-and-run.

Faulty DUI Test Results in Wrongful Drunk Driving Convictions

When Florida police stop a driver that they suspect of drunk driving they conduct a sobriety test on site. Conducting more than one test may become more important in Florida because problems associated with breathalyzers in Florida have potentially led to faulty convictions which lead them fighting DUI charges in Roanoke and other places. People should be responsible enough to avoid drunk driving, or they will have to Discover the cost of DUI in Orlando & Central Florida at Leppard Law to avoid legal consequences. However, protecting own and others’ life should be the priority over anything.

The sobriety test typically comes in three different forms. In one test the police have the driver stand on one leg or walk in a straight line and turn. This allows the police to assess the driver’s balance and motor skills. In another test officers use a flashlight to observe the involuntary twitching of a driver’s eye, called the horizontal gaze nystagmus. If the driver is intoxicated, the twitch occurs at duller peripheral angles than normal. In the third test, the police administer a breath test to determine a driver’s blood alcohol level. In Florida the legal limit is .08.

The breath test has stemmed some controversy in Florida, however, because the machine that police use to test a driver’s blood alcohol level – the Intoxilyzer 8000 – gives faulty readings about 40 percent of the time. As a consequence, sober drivers have been getting convicted of drunk driving based on faulty results. For that reason a number of Florida counties announced that they will not use the results from the Intoxilyzer 8000 breath test machine as evidence in DUI cases.
Florida drivers convicted of a DUI face the following possible penalties:

  • Fine
  • Jail time
  • Suspension of drivers license
  • Community service
  • Vehicle impoundment

Beyond court mandated penalties, there are a number of other consequences of a Florida DUI conviction. Drivers who do not get their drivers licenses suspended face a potential increase in their car insurance premiums. Drivers that do get their licenses suspended have to resort to alternative means of transportation, such as public transportation. Those who live in areas beyond the reach of public transportation face the threat of lost employment if they have no other way to get a ride to work.

Source: Law Firm Newswire, “Florida Drivers Arrested for DUI Due to Malfunctioning Alcohol Test”, April 25, 2012

Florida DUI, The Consequences

Florida has been increasing DUI patrols and enforcement efforts, trying to make our roads and highways safer. This increased DUI enforcement makes a DUI charge even more serious and costly. Just because you get pulled over and charged with DUI does not mean you are actually guilty of DUI. If you are charged with the crime of DUI, an attorney is essential to successfully navigating your way through the complicated charges.

No matter the circumstances of a DUI charge, you should never seek to represent yourself. The ramifications are serious and will be part of your personal and business credentials in many respects for many years. A skilled and seasoned DUI defense lawyer is essential to addressing and minimizing the many issues which flow from a DUI charge and conviction.

From a criminal law perspective, on your first offense, if convicted you will be assessed a significant fine, up to six months in jail and possibly a six month motor vehicle license suspension. As part of a sentence, there may be required alcohol treatment classes, community service hours and a period of probation. The fines and sanctions on a second offense increase dramatically and at the second offense, the DUI charge is considered a felony with a mandatory prison sentence.

From a financial standpoint, you will have to retain proper and experienced legal counsel. Most lawyers will work with clients in setting and paying the retainer. If you are employed and your present employer finds out about your conviction, you may be relieved of your position in favor of a lesser paying one or you may be released from employment. If you are currently seeking a job, you may not be considered for the position when the DUI is found on a routine background check. If you are in the middle of a military or law enforcement career, you may no longer be able to proceed. If security clearance is part of your position, you may face a reduction in your clearance status. A large challenge for DUI offenders is getting and paying for automobile insurance after a DUI conviction.
For each of these issues, good, solid legal representation will help you find your way through the legal labyrinth of a DUI charge. Your lawyer will make certain that your due process rights are protected and make sure that only competent legal evidence will be submitted to the Judge or Jury so you are not wrongfully convicted of a crime you were not guilty of. Innocent or guilty, a lawyer is an indispensable necessity when facing a DUI charge.