Being involved in a car accident is a scary experience. It doesn't matter if it is something as simple as a fender-bender. But just because it's a frightening ordeal doesn't mean you can leave the scene of an accident. Especially if there is a serious injury involved! A new law in Florida is harshly punishing drivers who leave the scene of an accident, involving a death. What once carried a minimum mandatory of 21 months in prison, now carries a minimum mandatory of 4 years in prison. And because it is a first degree felony, it now carries a 30 year maximum sentence.
It all goes back to early 2012, when Aaron Cohen was struck by a car while cycling with a friend in Key Biscayne, FL. The driver of the car, Michael Traverso, fled the scene of the accident before turning himself in the following day. In that time, between the accident and turning himself in, Mr. Cohen died from his injuries due to Mr. Traverso running him down. To make matters worse for Traverso, he might have been drunk. Prosecutors believed that he had been drinking heavily the night before the early morning of the accident. But since there was no direct evidence to this claim, Traverso eventually pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, rather than DUI manslaughter. If it had been for DUI manslaughter, he would have gone to prison for 4 years instead of the 21 months he received.
Now with this new law passing, you can see the difference in penalties and why the state of FL wanted this. What is now dubbed as "Aaron Cohen's Law" is a frightening reminder to drivers...NEVER LEAVE THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT.
If you have been accused of leaving the scene of an accident, it is crucial that you enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to establish a firm defense. It doesn't matter if the accident occured while you were sober, or if you don't think you did anything wrong. If you drive off right after an accident, you will need legal help.