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Hit and Run Penalties After The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act

leavingthesceneRecently making news in Palm Beach County, FL has been the increase in “hit and run” news stories. Because of the increase in hit and run cases throughout Palm Beach County, FL; the Florida Department of Highway Patrol is pushing a new campaign to educate drivers on the seriousness of hit and run criminal cases. Florida Highway Patrol has announced, in many local news conferences, that the new law regarding hit and run drivers, carries new stiffer sentences. As a matter of fact, if a hit and run driver kills someone in a crash and is later found guilty or pleads guilty to the hit and run causing death, the hit and run driver now faces a minimum mandatory prison sentence of four (4) years behind bars.  Florida’s new law regarding leaving the scene of an accident under Fl. Gen. Stat. 316.027 named “The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act” has made significant changes to leaving the scene of an accident in Florida.

The new changes to the leaving the scene of an accident have been established because of the increase in hit and run driving cases throughout Florida. Hit and run drivers have contributed to more than 84,000 accidents in Florida in 2014. Deaths by hit and run drivers have increased by 23 percent over the past two years in Florida.  Statistics in Florida also reveal that you are as likely to be killed as a pedestrian in a hit and run crash as a vehicle occupant. About half of all deaths in hit and run accidents have been fatal pedestrian crashes. With this in mind, the new law has changes in the following highlighted ways:

A)  Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury to a person is now a second degree felony punishable by 15 years in prison, as oppose to the previous law which punished the driver with a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

B)   Imposes a minimum mandatory sentence of 4 years in prison for anyone convicted of leaving the scene of an accident involving the death of a person.

C)   Now imposes a mandatory 4 year term of imprisonment, as oppose to the previous 2 years of mandatory imprisonment time, for anyone convicted of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in the death of person while driving under the influence.

D)  Imposes a 3 year driver’s license revocation for anyone convicted of leaving the scene of a crash.

E)   Lastly, for the first time ever in Florida history the legislatures have ranked certain people’s lives more valuable than others, by increasing the driver’s level of punishment, who leaves an accident scene, by one tier in the Florida criminal punishment code only for those victims who are considered “vulnerable road users” such as: pedestrians, bicyclist and motorcyclist.

According to law enforcement officials, they believe that drivers leave the scene for the many reasons. Law enforcement officials note that their investigations show that drivers leave the scene of an accident mostly because they are scared; they are impaired; they have a suspended driver’s license; or they have an open warrant or they have no insurance.  The legislatures have now tried to make the punishments for leaving the scene of an accident and other DUI crimes causing injury or death more congruent in hopes that they could legislate morality.

Any rational person will tell you that leaving a person on the side of the road after an automobile crash is immoral, heartless and downright cold. Do laws with stiffer prison sentences like “The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act” addressing those heartless acts; actually reduce such crimes is very debatable.  First of all, many people believe that our society is formed in such a way that it is better to save themselves then to do the right thing. So, is this new law really going to change the mind set of heartless people?

Additionally, impaired drivers or DUI drivers, by their very nature of “impaired faculties” do not have the ability to act appropriately at the time of an accident. Are the new stiffer penalties going to sober up the impaired driver? Is the new law going to change how a person acts at the time of an emergency and make them help the person they crashed their automobile into?

Florida legislatures have been pushed by special interest groups like MADD and SADD to pass laws that do not reduce crimes, throughout our State, but in fact only punish those that get caught committing crimes. The amount of unsolved hit and run deaths throughout Palm beach County, FL has risen steadily throughout the years. It is my guess that this new law, with its stiffer penalties for leaving the scene of an accident will only drive the death toll up even higher. Because morality cannot be legislated.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or is being investigated for leaving the scene of an accident or hit and run it is in your best interest to contact West Palm Beach, criminal lawyer Andrew D. Stine. Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney, Andrew D. Stine, has been defending those accused of drinking and driving, leaving the scene of accident, hit and run, DUI causing injury and DUI homicide for over a decade. Do what hundreds of drivers facing crimes in Palm Beach County have done for over a decade Hire Stine or Do the Time!

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