Stiffer Penalties in Play for Hit-and-Run Drivers in Florida
On July 16, 2014, Governor Rick Scott signed the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act into law. This law will impose much stricter penalties on individuals who are found guilty of leaving the scene after an auto accident.
This law is named after Aaron Cohen, a Miami bicyclist, who was killed while riding on a popular causeway across Biscayne Bay. The individual who struck Mr. Cohen abruptly left the scene before he could be questioned by police. The individual eventually turned himself in several hours later and after blood alcohol testing could not be completed. The individual later received a sentence of 22 months in county jail. Had the individual stayed at the scene and been found to have been driving while under the influence, he would have received a minimum sentence of two (2) years.
Before the passing of the law, there was a discrepancy between what an individual would get for a “Driving While Under the Influence” (DUI) charge and a “Leaving the Scene of an Accident” (LSA) charge. This loophole actually created an incentive for parties involved in a car accident to flee the scene and turn themselves in after the inebriating substances had passed through their system. This law attempts to close that loophole by making the following changes:
Establishing a minimum mandatory sentence of four (4) years for LSA cases where a death results;
Increasing the existing minimum mandatory sentence from two (2) to four (4) years for a LSA death with a DUI;
Requiring a three (3) year revocation of the offender’s driver’s license; and
Defining a “Vulnerable Road User” as a pedestrian, jogger, bicyclist, etc. and creating special protections for them.
Share the Road
With millions of cars travelling on the South Florida roads at any given moment, it should come as no surprise that there are thousands of vehicle crashes every year. In 2009, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, there were 42,244 reported auto accidents in Miami-Dade County alone, with 271 of those resulting in fatalities. While this law may not successfully bring those numbers down, it will hopefully encourage parties involved in accidents to remain at the scene until the proper authorities can arrive and make the appropriate determinations.
Drivers all over the state are being encouraged to pay more attention on the roads, not just to fellow drivers, but to bicyclists, motorcyclists, joggers, and pedestrians as well. But, as the old saying goes “accidents do happen.”
Contact a Miami Attorney
In the unfortunate event that you or someone you love is involved in an accident involving a motor vehicle, it is incredibly important to secure competent, trustworthy, and experienced representation as quickly as possible. Along with the physical injury and pain that usually follow an accident, individuals often have to deal with mounting medical bills, lost wages, property damage, insurance companies, police reports, information requests, and more.
It is a comfort to know that you have a team on your side doing everything they can to ensure you get what you need to pay those medical bills, restore those lost wages, and to get you compensated in every way the law allows. Our firm has such a team, and we are ready to serve your needs in the greater Miami-Dade area. Contact the Perez–Gurri Law Firm today in order to discuss your available legal options after an auto accident.