Phantom "Hit and Run" Non-Contact Crash in Florida

What happens if your car did not actually come into contact with any other car involved in the crash? If you look in the rear view mirror and see a crash behind you are you required to stop and render aid? Can you be charged with "hit and run" if your vehicle never "hit" anything? In Florida, the answer is theoretically "yes."

You could be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony version of hit and run depending on whether injury occurred.

What is a Phantom Vehicle?

The Tampa Police Department in Florida has standard operating procedures that specifically address the phanton vehicle "hit and run" investigation (sometimes called the no contact "hit and run" or the non-contact "hit and run").

According to Wikipedia, "the phantom vehicle may refer to a supposed ghostly or haunted vehicle, or, for insurance purposes, a vehicle that causes injury, death, or damage without making physical contact."

Elements of the "No Hit - Hit and Run "

The standard operating procedures in Tampa, FL, provide that before a non-contact (phantom) vehicle can be considered a hit and run vehicle, the following facts must be established:

  1. the driver must have had some reasonable knowledge of its involvement in the crash;
  2.  the vehicle must have been a "direct cause" of the crash; and
  3. the vehicle did leave the scene to avoid its responsibility under Florida law.
The non-contact vehicle should only be listed if all of those facts are established by evidence or witness(es).

If the "no contact" vehicle (phantom vehicle) is not at the scene, then the law enforcement officers are suppose to treat the investigation as a hit and run. The non-contact hit and run can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. 

The non-contact vehicle is suppose to be listed last in the crash report. In most cases, the information about a non-contact "hit and run" vehicle is not entered into the statistical blocks of the crash report on the driver, vehicle or codes on phantom / non-contact or hit and run vehicles until this information can be verified.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the Tampa Bay area, including the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, and the Florida Highway Patrol use similar procedures. 

Finding an Attorney in Tampa for a Hit and Run Case

After a criminal investigation begins, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney before making any statements to law enforcement. The punishments for leaving the scene of a crash are very serious. Anything you say can and will be used against you.

If you are under investigation in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, or the surrounding counties of Pinellas, Polk, Pasco, or Hernando, then contact an experienced "hit and run" defense attorney in Tampa. Call 813-250-0500. 

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