The Florida Highway Patrol is considering the owner of an SUV involved in a hit and run crash where somebody died a person of interest in the case.
In June of this year, there was a hit and run crash on Bird Road in Miami-Dade County. The driver of the SUV is accused of striking another vehicle and then fleeing the scene.
However, so far FHP has been unable to determine who was driving the car.
If charged with a crime the driver of the SUV would be charged with leaving the scene of an accident (LSA) causing death. This is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in Florida state prison.
However, it is essential to the quantum of proof that the state be able to prove the identity of the driver of the car.
Simply being the owner of a vehicle is not sufficient proof of a crime.
Leaving the scene of an accident charges, whether misdemeanor or felony, can be very difficult for the state to prove without sufficient evidence as to the identity of the driver.
It is important to remember that it is not a crime, by itself, to get into a car accident. Provided you are not committing a crime while driving (such as driving impaired), a traffic crash alone is not considered criminal.
FHP will continue to try and locate the owner of the SUV involved in the lethal crash. However, provided the owner does not make a statement to the police, the owner will likely not be charged if no independent evidence can identify that person as the driver.
Eric Matheny is a Miami and Broward hit and run lawyer who has represented several clients charged with and under investigation for leaving the scene of an accident offenses.