Channel 4 reports on a new Florida law that aims to tighten laws for leaving the scene of fatal accidents. Deadly hit-and-run incidents are being called an epidemic problem in Florida, which some say is because of the way Florida law is set up — you’ll do less jail time if you leave the scene of an accident where someone is killed than if you stay.
The Jacksonville area has been plagued with many tragic hit and runs in recent years and part of the reason why Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Tuesday that Florida is tightening its laws for leaving the scene of a fatal accident. The new law would increase the mandatory minimum sentence from two years to four, the same sentence someone would get for DUI manslaughter.
So far, there’s no numbers on what the increased punishments would cost taxpayers to lock people up for longer times. The state’s sheriff and police chief associations have endorsed the bill.
Legislators are also looking at ways to tighten the laws. Earlier this year, the Sun-Sentinel reported that Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, is also sponsoring a tough-on-crime bill that would stiffen mandatory sentences for those who flee the scene of an accident with fatal injuries. He proposes they spend at least 10 years behind bars, significantly more than the four they face if convicted of DUI manslaughter.
In 2012, Florida witnessed nearly 70,000 hit-and-run crashes, up by 500 from the previous year, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
All of us here at Edwards & Ragatz hope either one of these bills pass this legislative session. There needs to be a message sent to anyone who considers leaving a scene of an accident: In Florida, you better stay and help, or plan on going to jail for a long, long time.
Related Post: Hit-and-Run Crashes are on the rise in Northeast Florida
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