As of July 1, 2014, any driver who leaves the scene of a fatal wreck in Florida will face at least4 years in prison. The law increasing penalties for hit and run convictions ends what officials said was a gap in state law that gave drunken drivers an incentive to flee accident scenes. The old law did not include a minimum-mandatory requirement for leaving the scene of an accident. The new law:
- creates a minimum mandatory 4-year prison sentence for leaving the scene of a fatal accident;
- requires an offender’s driver license to be revoked for3 years;
- increases the maximum sentence for leaving the scene of an accident involving serious injury from 5 to 15 years in prison;
- increases the minimum mandatory sentence in fatal DUI hit-and-runs from 2 to 4 years in prison
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, an average of three people a week were killed by hit-and-run drivers in Florida in 2012. Statewide there were more than 70,000 hit-and-run accidents that year, including 3,500 in Palm Beach County, nearly 8,000 in Broward County, and 13,000 in Miami-Dade County.
If you or your loved one are unfortunate enough to be hurt or killed by a hit and run driver, it may be difficult or impossible to track down the driver and ascertain whether that driver carries bodily injury (BI) coverage to cover your losses. The State of Florida does not require drivers to carry bodily injury coverage, so the hit and run driver may not carry that coverage anyway. That is why it is prudent for Florida drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured (“UM”) motorist coverage. UM coverage is coverage that you carry that provides valuable protection in the event you are injured by a motorist lacking bodily injury coverage. To learn more about the types of auto insurance coverages, read the blog post “Types of Insurance Coverages.”