Hit and run accidents, unfortunately, are more common than people think. My office alone handles as many as a dozen a year.
In 2015, there were 92,000 hit/runs in Florida, with 19,000 injured, 1,200 had serious injuries, and 186 fatalities, with more than half of the victims being pedestrians. Seventy percent of the drivers were males and 1/3 were between the ages of 18-27. Those numbers aren’t just rising in Florida, but, nationwide as well.
The problems with hit/run is most of them occur because alcohol is involved.
Almost two years ago, the Aaron Cohen law in Florida was passed. Aaron Cohen was a cyclist who was killed while riding his bicycle in Key Biscayne. The driver of the automobile had been drinking the night before. After the accident, the driver turned himself in.
At the time, in Florida there was a loophole when it came to accidents and a DUI. If you were involved in accident that seriously injured or killed someone and there was alcohol involved, you were better off leaving the scene of the accident, then return and say you went to “go get a drink” because you were so nervous. A police officer could not prove a DUI without your confession,
With the Aaron Cohen law, leaving the scene imposes minimum mandatory prison sentence of four years if a death is involved. Penalties are enhanced for “vulnerable road users” which includes bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, and pedestrians.
Florida now has the “Bad to Worse” campaign. Below is a chart on the Florida DMV website.
Whether Florida’s campaign reduces hit/runs, only time will tell. Historically, passing a law does not curb society’s behavior, only education does, unless of course, the penalties are strict. Leave it up to me, and a three year license suspension would become a life-time suspension and automatic minimum mandatory jail time. Falling short of that, it is important to educate the public. Too many flee for no reason and it does go from “bad to worse.”
For example, some drivers may leave the scene because they do not have insurance or are under insured. So what! That is a financial issue that could easily be resolved. The state will issue what is called an SR-22, and that means that the damages have to be paid before the state re-issues the driver’s license.
Suppose as a result of medical bills and damages to the vehicle, etc., the victim is owed $22,000. The attorney that has filed suit against the driver always accept payment plans in order to compensate the victim/client. With certain exceptions, the driver may even qualify for a bankruptcy.
What if you are in the Unites States without legal status? Again, this could easily be resolved. A citation will be issued for not having a valid driver’s license, and while that is a criminal offense, in south Florida, that alone won’t result in jail time.
Now, while no one wants another to get a way without compensating a victim or jail time, I prefer that someone is not killed. I know two bikers personally, that were the victims of hit/runs last year. One was hit on the highway and the other was hit by a vehicle that took the red light. Both could have been left for dead, but luckily, they lived to see and ride another day.
Florida’s campaign is correct; it does go from bad to worse. In today’s society, there are cameras everywhere, whether the bikers have a Go Pro camera, traffic cams, or just someone taking a selfie, you never know if they will snap that pic that puts you behind bars. Even the blog before this one, focused on motorcycle riders having Go Pro cameras for that very reason. It is not worth it, not to mention, you may leave someone to die that with medical attention, would have been fine. Remember, “that biker,” has family, friends, and loved ones.
Don’t hit & run!
As I finished writing this, I found out a hit/run occurred last night in Miami, the driver hit someone riding a motorized bicycle. The victim is Jorge Vargas, age 61. Condolences to all his friends, family, and loved ones. Below is the surveillance video released.