It is becoming more frequent that drivers are running from the scene after a motor vehicle accident. Police say the driver of an SUV was speeding when he lost control on E. Airport Center Drive about 6:30 p.m. on a Monday in October. The vehicle crossed the median, went airborne and landed on a smaller SUV in the oncoming lane, leaving one person dead and four injured. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said a dark-colored SUV was going east when it lost control and crossed the median hitting a white SUV. Police say a female passenger in the first SUV, was ejected and died on the scene. The driver took off running, but was detained by bystanders until police arrived. He was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, then booked into the Duval County jail on charges of violating his probation on a 2012 conviction on weapons and marijuana possession charges. The driver, an adult passenger and infant in the smaller SUV were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Traffic homicide investigators said the female passenger was not wearing a seat belt. According to News4Jax, the driver was on probation and was driving on a suspended license, according police records.
Running from the scene
Florida has seen an increase of fatal hit and run crashes during the last two years. The Patrol is partnering with the Florida Sheriffs Association, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, Students Against Destructive Decisions and the Florida Department of Transportation to combat the problem. The campaign aims to reduce the number of hit and run crashes in Florida by educating drivers on their responsibilities if involved in a crash and the consequences they face if they leave a crash scene.
What to do after a crash:
- CALL law enforcement.
- REMAIN calm.
- ATTAIN vehicle, witness and driver information.
- SKETCH the scene, showing vehicle crash locations.
- HELP the injured
A few hit and run facts for Florida:
Hit and run crashes involving fatalities increased 23 percent from 2013 to 2014.
The number of hit and run crashes statewide has increased 7 percent from 2013 to 2014.
Nearly half of the hit and run fatalities in 2014 were pedestrians, a 17 percent increase from 2013.
25 percent of all crashes are hit and run crashes.
What does Florida law say?
Effective July 1, 2014 – Drivers Leaving the Scene of a Crash – 316.027
Creates the “Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act.” Requires the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash that results in serious bodily injury to a person to immediately stop the vehicle and remain at the scene of the crash. Imposes a mandatory minimum sentence, with respect to cases involving DUI and death, by increasing the penalty for leaving the scene:
- Changes the charge for leaving the scene of a crash resulting in serious bodily injury to a person to a 2nd degree felony, rather than a 3rd degree felony;
- Imposes a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 4 years for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in the death of a person;
- Increases the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment from 2 to 4 years for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in the death of a person while driving under the influence (DUI);
- Imposes a minimum driver license revocation period of at least 3 years, and driver education requirements for leaving the scene of a crash;
- If the victim is a “vulnerable road user,” offenses for leaving the scene of a crash are ranked one level higher than specified in the Criminal Punishment Code;
- Authorizes a defendant to make a motion in court to depart from the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death, unless the violation was committed while the defendant was DUI;
- and authorizes the state to object to the defendant’s motion and authorizes a court to grant the motion upon a finding that imposition of the mandatory minimum term would constitute or result in an injustice.