Leaving the scene of an accident is a very serious crime that can have large consequences. The Florida State Legislature passed the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act (Florida Statutes section 316.027) in 2014, which enacted harsher penalties for drivers who leave the scene of an accident. The act was passed in response to an incident in 2012 when Aaron Cohen, a 31-year-old bicyclist, was killed by a hit-and-run driver who was allegedly under the influence of alcohol.
A hit and run driver can face the following charges and penalties if the accident includes:
- Property Damage: Fleeing the scene of an accident that resulted in property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor and carries a sentence of up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine.
- Injuries: A hit-and-run accident that causes an injury can be classified as either a second or third-degree felony, punishable by a revoked license for at least three years, up to five years in prison, and a $5,000 fine.
- Fatalities: It is a first-degree felony to flee the scene of an accident where a fatality is involved. Penalties include a revoked license for at least three years, a mandatory minimum of four years in prison, a maximum of 30 years in prison, and a $10,000 fine.
If a driver leaves the scene of an accident involving injury or death and was under the influence of alcohol or drugs they will be subject to a mandatory minimum prison term of 2 years. The driver will be subject to a mandatory driver’s license revocation for cases involving injury or death.
If you are in a vehicle accident, remain at the scene and call 911. It’s not just the law, it’s also the right thing to do — you may help save a life. While police and emergency crews work their way to the site, avoid getting in the way of traffic and other hazards that could make the situation worse.