Florida law enforcement officials say hit and run crashes are increasing at an alarming rate. That’s why they’re launching a new campaign to let drivers know that leaving the scene of an accident can result in tougher penalties.
Florida had more than 80,000 hit and run crashes last year. Fatal hit and run crashes increased by 23 percent in Florida between 2013 and 2014 and nearly half of those victims were pedestrians, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The agency is hosting press conferences around the state this week to educate drivers on the consequences of leaving a crash.
Gov. Rick Scott signed a law last year that enhances the penalties for leaving the scene of a crash, making it a second-degree felony and requiring a mandatory minimum four year sentence for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a fatal crash. Drivers who leave an accident could also have their license revoked for three years under the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act.
If the driver was under the influence during a fatal crash, the law increases the mandatory minimum sentence from two to four years in prison.
“Leaving the scene makes the situation worse, not only for those who flee, but even more so for the victims left behind,” said Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “It is crucial that all individuals involved in a crash, including witnesses to a crash, contact 911 and remain at the scene until help arrives. Every life matters and every second counts.”
Law enforcement officials say those involved in an accident should call law enforcement, remain calm, get vehicle witness and driver information, sketch the scene to show vehicle crash locations and help the injured.
The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is partnering with the Florida Sheriffs Association, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, the Florida Department of Transportation and Students Against Destructive Decisions in the effort.
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