FHP cracking down on hit-and-run crashes

Published: Monday, February 18, 2013 at 6:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 18, 2013 at 6:23 p.m.

Hit-and-run crashes are on the rise in Florida, with the state seeing nearly 70,000 of them last year alone, records show.

The number of fatalities from such crashes is also growing, and law enforcement agencies, led by the Florida Highway Patrol, wants to stem the tide.

The FHP on Monday launched a statewide campaign to educate Florida drivers about their responsibilities if they are involved in a crash and the consequences of leaving a crash scene.

In 2011, there were 162 fatalities from hit-and-run crashes in Florida, FHP records show. In 2012, the number rose to 168. The total number of hit-and-run crashes statewide in 2012 equaled 69,994, and the FHP said three out of every five fatalities in 2012 were struck pedestrians.

According to Florida law, a driver in a crash must immediately stop and remain at the scene, exchange information with drivers and render reasonable assistance to any injured persons.

Anyone leaving the scene of a crash involving death commits a first-degree felony, FHP Sgt. Tracy Hisler-Pace said, and could face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

If a driver leaves the scene of a crash involving injuries, it’s a third-degree felony and the penalty is a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Also, if someone leaves the scene of an accident involving property damage, it’s a second degree felony and carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in a county jail and a fine of $500.

In Alachua County, there were 871 hit-run crashes reported to the FHP in 2011, and 1,011 in 2012. In addition, Hisler-Pace said there are a few unsolved cases as well.

One Alachua County case happened on May 28, 2010. Kevin Riddick, Jr. was driving his scooter around 1:52 a.m. when another vehicle hit him from behind. Riddick died at the scene.

The vehicle that hit him was described as a white Chevrolet pickup truck with large tires, chrome rims and dark tinted windows. Hisler-Pace said anyone with information should call authorities at (386) 754-6283.

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