Friday, August 22, 2014

Changes to Florida Criminal Traffic Laws

In 2012, there were nearly 70,000 hit and run crashes in the State of Florida which resulted in 17,000 injuries and 166 fatalities.  This number of fatalities equates to nearly 3 Floridians killed each week in hit-and-run crashes.

On February 15, 2012, Michele Traverso was on his way home from an evening of drinking when he ran over two cyclists and fled the scene.  One of those cyclists, Aaron Cohen was killed and the defendant received a sentence of twenty-two months of incarceration.

In response, the Florida Legislature began to make proposals to Florida Statute §316.027 that were contained in Senate Bill 102.  This Bill became law effective July 1, 2014.  Some of the changes to Florida Statute §316.027 include the following:

·        Leaving the Scene of an Accident resulting in bodily injury is now a 2nd degree felony rather than a 3rd degree felony;

·        A minimum mandatory penalty of 4-years shall be imposed for a conviction resulting in the death of a person;

·        Increases the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment from 2-years to 4-years for a conviction while driving under the influence (DUI);

·        Imposes a minimum 3-year license revocation;

·        If there is a finding that the victim was a “vulnerable road user”, the offense may be ranked one-level higher than specified in the Criminal Punishment Code;

·        Allows a defendant to make a motion requesting the court to depart from the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment unless the violation was committed while the defendant was DUI;

·        Authorizes the State to object to the defendant’s motion and authorizes the court to grant the defendant’s motion if there is a finding that the mandatory minimum sentence would constitute or result in an injustice.