February is “Hit and Run Awareness Month” and the Florida Highway Patrol has a very clear message to all drivers involved in accidents: “Stay at the scene of the accident.”
FHP says our state has seen the amount of hit and run crashes remain steady, “with nearly 25 percent of all crashes involving a hit and run.” Miami-Dade County leads the state in the number of hit and run accidents.
“It did a lot of damage, I mean that was my firstborn and it’s like one half of me is gone now, the other half is just functioning, it left such a great dent in our hearts,” said Maggie Boykins at an FHP event which stressed the importance of staying on scene.
Boykins lost her 45-year-old son Montage in a hit and run accident in September 2018. He was hit while outside his vehicle.
“It’s not good to do that. You know you did something that was wrong,” said Boykins.
Christopher and Meredith Tunez and their three children were injured after a hit and run driver struck their vehicle on the Palmetto Expressway. Christopher and Meredith were hospitalized for months with broken bones.
“You know, my kids could have died. We could have been short one kid, you know, the driver had no idea what happened so staying on the scene and helping a family get closure, really you can’t put a price on that,” said Christopher Tunez.
“We are so grateful and we are so thankful that we are all still alive and that our children are alive, that it was injuries instead of fatalities. Reckless driving, that’s what caused it,” said Meredith Tunez.
“We want to emphasize that leaving the scene is not a mistake, it’s a crime,” said Trooper Joe Sanchez.
The current law imposes a mandatory minimum of four years for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in a fatality.
- Leaving the scene of the crash with property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor. The penalties are up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine.
- If you leave the scene of a crash involving injuries, it is a second or third-degree felony. The penalties could lead to a revoked license for at least 3 years, up to five years in prison and $5,000 fine.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving deaths is a first-degree felony. The offender faces a revoked license for at least three years, a mandatory minimum of 4 years in prison, up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.FHP says, “If you are involved in a crash, stay at the scene and call for help. It’s not just the law – you could save a life.”
If you have information on a hit and run crash, you can report it anonymously to Crime Stoppers.