The Epoch Times reports that a Florida man is wanted by law enforcement for allegedly leaving his two minor stepdaughters behind after he was involved in a car accident in Haines City. According to Haines City police, the fleeing driver, Armando De Dios Cruz, violated the right-of-way of another driver and crashed into another car, causing it to roll over. The driver of the other vehicle sustained a broken wrist. Cruz does not have a valid driver’s license, according to officials. Cruz’s younger stepdaughter, who is 7 years old, was sitting in the back seat at the time of the crash and was ejected. His older child, a 13-year-old, was sitting in the front seat but was not ejected. The children were taken to the hospital to treat their injuries. A warrant has been issued for his arrest, and he has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident with injury as well as child neglect.
Fleeing the Scene in Florida
If you have been involved in a Florida car accident, understand that traffic laws in most states across the nation require that you take a number of steps immediately after the crash, one of which, of course, is not fleeing the scene of the accident. Specifically, state law mandates that drivers involved in a car accident:
- Stop their vehicles as soon as it is safe to do so, making sure they are not blocking traffic
- Locate others involved in the crash including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, and exchange basic information with them including contact information, insurance information, and vehicle registration information
- Provide the injured with reasonable assistance, including calling 911 and providing necessary information to responders once they arrive
- Contact local law enforcement so that they may arrive at the scene and complete an accident report
- If no one else is present and the accident only involved an unattended vehicle — or of other property damage occurred — the at-fault driver must leave a note with his or her contact information and other relevant data in a place where it will be found
Cruz’s younger stepdaughter, who is 7 years old, was sitting in the back seat at the time of the crash and was ejected.
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Potential Penalties for a Hit-and-Run
Florida law, and laws in other states, make fleeing the scene of an accident a crime with serious consequences. These include heavy monetary fines, probation, suspension of the accused’s driver’s license, and even imprisonment. A person convicted in Florida of fleeing the scene of an accident will almost certainly have his or her car insurance premiums skyrocket. Commonly referred to as a hit-and-run, a charge of fleeing the scene of an accident may be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts of the specific accident. When only property damage is caused, fleeing the accident scene is considered a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a monetary fine of $500.00 and/or up to 60 days in county jail. If injuries resulted from the crash, the crime is elevated to a third-degree felony punishable by up to $5,000.00 in fines and/or up to five years in prison. If the accident resulted in a death, fleeing the scene will result in a first-degree felony charge punishable by a fine of up to $10,000.00 and/or up to 15 years in prison.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a car crash in Clermont, Orange City, Leesburg, Daytona, Ocala, Kissimmee, or any other city in Central Florida, contact the personal injury attorneys at Bogin, Munns & Munns, P.A. Schedule your free personal injury consultation today!
NOTICE: The article above is not intended to serve as legal advice, and you should not rely on it as such. It is offered only as general information. You should consult with a duly licensed attorney regarding your Florida legal matter, as every situation is unique. Please know that merely reading this article, subscribing to this blog, or otherwise contacting Bogin, Munns & Munns does not establish an attorney-client relationship with our firm. Should you seek legal representation from Bogin, Munns & Munns, any such representation must first be agreed to by the firm and confirmed in a written agreement.