Florida legislation for hit-and-run accidents


hit and run accident florida

Hit-and-run accidents are a serious problem in Florida, which has unfortunately developed a reputation for its hazardous roads and dangerous drivers. In 2012, there were close to 70,000 hit-and-run accidents in Florida, resulting in death, injury, and/or property damage.

One case involving cyclist Aaron Cohen, who died in a hit-and-run accident in 2012, has prompted a new bill in the Florida legislature that would call for minimum mandatory sentences for hit-and-run accidents of different levels of severity.  The man convicted of striking and killing Cohen and injuring a companion biking with him spent 264 days in jail after his trial and was recently released to face a couple of more years of house arrest.

Many considered this sentence too lenient, especially as he was driving with a suspended license and was suspected of being intoxicated (because there were no blood tests confirming this, he wasn’t charged with DUI manslaughter, which has a minimum sentence of 4 years). If passed by the Florida legislature, some of the changes introduced by the new bill, called the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, would include the following:

  • A 10 year minimum sentencing if the accident results in someone’s death.
  • 5 years for accidents involving injuries, and 7 years if the injury is especially serious, causing disfigurement, paralysis, or other kinds of impairment.
  • Sentencing decisions would also account for injured parties who are especially vulnerable, such as pedestrians, cyclists, first responders, and road construction crews, who are less protected during vehicular collisions.
  • Any hit and run offender would have their license revoked for at least 3 years.

Legislators feel that introducing these minimum sentences will give hit and run accidents a comparable severity to DUIs in terms of the consequences faced by offenders; hit and run drivers who are intoxicated would have less incentive to flee in an attempt to avoid DUI penalties.

Will the new bill be signed into law? We’ll have to wait and see.  In the meantime, if you’re involved in an accident, keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t flee the scene, no matter how minor the accident appears.
  • If possible, exchange information with the other driver or individuals involved.
  • When there’s injury or death, it’s imperative that you call 911 immediately, reporting the accident to law enforcement and summoning medical assistance.

An accident you’re involved in may also require you to contact a criminal defense attorney; don’t hesitate to do so, as an expert attorney will ensure that you receive fair treatment under the law.

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Howard Iken is a Florida attorney that practices in family law, bankruptcy, and criminal law. He can be reached at www.myfloridalaw.com