Tougher laws to enhance road safety here in Florida

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Child in Car Seat

Gov. Rick Scott signed a pair of bills this past Tuesday aimed at improving safety on Florida roads.

Scott approved measures toughening penalties for drivers who leave the scenes of serious traffic accidents (SB 102) and raising the minimum age at which children can ride in motor vehicles without restraining devices (HB 225).

The hit-and-run bill, sponsored by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, is named after Aaron Cohen, a 36-year-old bicyclist who was killed in a 2012 accident on the Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami-Dade County.  The legislation would create a four-year minimum mandatory sentence for drivers who leave the scenes of accidents involving death and require that an offender’s driver’s license be revoked for three years. The new law goes into effect on July 1.

Parents will now have to use a car seat for children up to 5 years old.  The new law increases Florida’s car seat requirement from 4 years old to 5 years old. The new law allows parents to use booster seats to meet the requirements.  Past efforts to raise the age requirement for car seats have gone nowhere in the Legislature.  There are exceptions to the new law, including if a child is being transported by someone who is not a member of the immediate family.

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