I left the scene of an accident….What now?

Peter Aiken
Criminal Defense Attorney
941-366-3506

December 2019

There are an incredible number of hit and runs every day in Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota County Florida.

Some involve only property damage but others involve serious injury and sometimes death. There are a high number of hit and run deaths that involve bicycles. In many of those, it is not the automobile driver’s fault but rather the person on the bicycle riding without a light, riding on the wrong side of the road or ignoring a traffic device or signal. Sadly, many people panic when they hit a pedestrian or a person on a bicycle and take off. It is a knee jerk reaction and most of the time pure panic. There are those of you reading this blog that know exactly what I mean. It is one thing to drive off after scraping or bumping a car in a large parking lot. It is quite another to take off and leave someone dying on the side of the road.

There are a lot of reasons people do not remain on the scene. The number one reason is because they are drinking and fear a DUI investigation. They may not have a valid license. They may not have insurance and in some instances because of age or infirmity, they may not even actually be aware they hit something.

Should you come forward and confess?

That is a tough question. Morally, it may soothe some of your guilt but there is a downside. You could end up in prison or end up losing your license and neither one of those things will bring back a life. The Highway Patrol often goes on television asking the driver to come forward. The problem is that if you come forward and confess, you are providing the missing link to a successful arrest and prosecution for leaving the scene of an accident with death. If the guilt is eating you up, talk to a lawyer before you do anything.

As a criminal defense lawyer, I am bound by the rules of confidentiality.

If you are contacted by the police, never waive your right to remain silent. If you are not yet in custody, they do not have to advise you of your right to an attorney or your right to remain silent. If you talk to them, even if you deny being there, your statement can be used against you. The Supreme Court this week decided a case involving cell phones. Your cell phone tracks your location and now the police need a warrant to get that information. If you made a phone call right after the accident, the police can find out where you were when the call was made. If you were texting or talking at the moment of the accident, they can put you at the scene of the accident at the time of the accident by using cell phone data.

Many people get caught trying to cover up the accident by destroying or tampering with the car. Do not do anything to make the situation worse.

Call an experienced qualified criminal defense lawyer right away. Lawyering up may be the best decision you ever made.

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