Aaron Cohen, a 36-year-old triathlete, was riding his bike early one morning in February 2012 when he was hit and killed by a driver returning home after a night out drinking. The driver did not stop and call for help. He instead hid his car and turned himself in the next day.
The driver later pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a car accident and was sentenced to 364 days in jail and two years of community service.
Under Florida manslaughter laws, the driver could have gotten the mandatory minimum prison sentence of four years if he had been convicted of drunk driving. But Florida law does not require a minimum mandatory prison sentence for drivers who leave the scene of an accident, even if there is an injury or fatality. Some say that this is an incentive for drunk drivers to leave the scene of an accident.
However, that may soon be changing. Florida Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla recently introduced the Aaron Cohen Law. If passed, this law would increase the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident to be more in line with DUI penalties.
Key facets of the bill include:
- A classification of “vulnerable road users” including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, police officers, first responders and construction workers, among others.
- Mandatory minimum sentencing for hit-and-run offenders. The penalties:
- 3 years if the crash results in injury to a “vulnerable road user.”
- 5 years if the crash results in injury to a person.
- 7 years if the crash results in serious bodily harm such as disfigurement or impairment.
- 10 years if the crash results in a death.
- A mandatory 3 years of license revocation for all hit-and-run offenders.
There were almost 70,000 hit-and-run crashes in Florida in 2012. In those accidents, nearly 17,000 people were injured and 168 were killed. Sixty percent of the 168 deaths in hit-and-run accidents in 2012 involved pedestrians, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
If you have been hurt in a hit-and-run accident, you surely have a lot of questions and concerns. Once your medical condition is taken care of, you should think about talking to an experienced Florida injury attorney right away.