Tallahassee, Florida -- Attorney General Pam Bondi announced legislation Tuesday that will change the way hit-and-run drivers are charged and sentenced in crashes resulting in injury or death.
Under current Florida law, there is a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in prison for killing someone while driving under the influence. However, if a driver leaves the scene of a fatal crash, they faces a much lighter sentence.
- Create a minimum mandatory sentence of four years for leaving the scene of an accident which results in death (with an allowance for downward departure by the court when mitigating factors exist).
- Increase existing minimum mandatory sentence from two to four years for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death with DUI.
- Increase the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury from a 3rd-degree felony to a 2nd-degree felony.
- Define "Vulnerable Road User" (VRU) and create a VRU enhancer in the criminal punishment code.
- Require a three-year revocation of the offender's driver's license and, prior to reinstatement, a driver's education course on the rights of vulnerable road users.
The Aaron Cohen Act was created to promote new legislation following the death of a popular Miami triathlete who was killed by an alleged drunk driver while he was riding his bike on a causeway in 2012. The driver left the scene and turned himself in the next day, avoiding a DUI charge and, as a result, received a shorter jail sentence of one year.
"Floridians deserve to feel safe when enjoying their communities, and this legislative proposal will crack down on all hit-and-runs," Attorney General Bondi said in a release. "I thank Senator Diaz de la Portilla and Representative Nelson for their leadership on the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, and I applaud Patty Cohen for her bravery in transforming her tragedy into action to protect others."
The bill unanimously passed its first two committee stops. The first committee hearing for HB 183 will be in the House Transportation and Highway Safety Subcommittee.
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