Florida AG Backs Bill to Curb Hit-and-Run Incidents

Attorney General Pam Bondi joined with legislative leaders this week to announce their support for a bill to remove the incentive for drunk drivers to flee the scene of an accident.

In Tallahassee, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi joined state legislative and law enforcement leaders to declare their support for a bill intended to crack down on hit-and-run drivers, which Bondi and others say is a growing problem in the state: The Florida Highway Patrol reports an average of three people per week were killed by hit-and-run drivers during 2012.

Current Florida law imposes a mandatory sentence of at least four years in prison for killing someone while driving under the influence. However, a driver who leaves the scene of an accident that kills someone faces a lighter sentence, they said, citing the case of a bicyclist, Aaron Cohen, where the driver who struck and killed him left the scene and later received less than two years in jail.

"Floridians deserve to feel safe when enjoying their communities, and this legislative proposal will crack down on all hit-and-runs," Bondi said.

The bill, SB 102, is named the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act. It would set 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) and would raise the existing minimum mandatory sentence from two to four years for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death with DUI. Two legislative committees have passed the bill unanimously; a House version is set for a hearing in the House Transportation and Highway Safety Subcommittee.

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