On June 24, 2014, Governor Scott signed senate bill 102, the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, into law, strengthening the criminal penalties for leaving the scene of a deadly accident so that they more closely match the penalties someone would get if they had stayed at the scene if they were drinking and driving.
The law was named after Aaron Cohen, who was killed in a hit and run while he was bicycling in South Florida back in 2012. The person who hit him turned himself in 17 hours after the accident, when the chance of getting a successful test to show blood alcohol content at the time of the accident had past. The driver could not be charged with DUI manslaughter, and as a result he got a lighter 22-month sentence when he was convicted of a different crime. Aaron Cohen’s loved ones were devastated at the result and began the push to make the sentences for both crimes the same so that someone wouldn’t be rewarded for leaving the scene of a deadly accident when they were drunk.
The accident highlighted a huge loophole when it came to punishing those who were involved in accidents where someone was killed and the driver was drunk. In effect, they were being rewarded for leaving the scene of the accidents, as they could end up getting a lighter jail term if they didn’t stay. The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act was introduced in order to close this loophole through making the punishment the same for leaving the scene of a deadly accident the same as if the person had stayed and were drunk.
The law that was signed by Governor Scott increases the minimum sentence for both leaving the scene of a deadly accident and DUI Manslaughter to 4 years in prison. Additionally, someone who leaves the scene of a deadly accident will now face license suspension for leaving the scene of a deadly crash, similar to the type of suspension that they would face for a DUI manslaughter conviction. Now both crimes would lead to a 3-year minimum licenses suspension.
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