Florida Senate Panel Says Yes to Tougher Hit-And-Run Penalties

Posted on January 13, 2014

For years, critics have claimed that Florida law gives drunk drivers an incentive to flee the scene of an accident rather than face the consequences of their actions.

As the law now stands, a driver found guilty of DUI manslaughter faces a minimum of at least four years in prison. However, a DUI driver who has been involved in an accident with fatalities can face substantially less prison time if he or she flees the scene of an accident, sobers up, and then either gets apprehended or voluntarily comes clean.

A new law, proposed by Sen. Miguel de la Portilla (R-Miami), would level the playing field when it comes to punishments for hit-and-run offenses. Under SB 102, any hit-and-run driver would face a sentence of at least four years if convicted of fleeing the scene of a fatal accident. The idea is to take away the incentive for a DUI driver to flee a crash scene, sober up and possibly face less jail time if convicted because it cannot be proven that he or she was under the influence at the time of the accident.

The new proposed penalties wouldn’t differentiate whether a hit-and-run driver was drunk or sober. The minimum sanctions would be the same for all hit-and-run drivers.

“At the very least you have the proportionality with [the penalty for] DUI manslaughter. There is no incentive to flee,” Diaz de la Portilla stated.

The proposed law would also stiffen penalties for injury hit-and-run accidents and would turn any hit and run conviction into a felony. The Florida Senate Transportation and Highway Safety Subcommittee approved the bill by a 10-0 vote. It must gain support from three more Senate committees before it is brought up for a vote in the Senate.

Statistics for Florida Hit-and-Run Accidents

Hit-and-run driving is an epidemic in Florida. In 2012, there were 70,000 hit-and-run crashes. Hit-and-run drivers kill an average of 3.2 people every week in the Sunshine Sate and, according to the Florida Highway Patrol there were 500 more hit-and-run crashes in 2012 than in 2011.

The pedestrian and automobile accident attorneys at Farah & Farah in Gainesville have long decried the epidemic of hit-and-run crashes in Florida that leave a trail of injuries and fatalities in their wake. Drivers who injure or kill others should be held accountable for their actions.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent driver, contact us to learn about your legal options. Call (800) 533-3555 or contact us online to set up a free, no obligation review of your case.

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