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Aaron Cohen Act

F3F412EE3A2D4737B0B358DDBE1BA77E.ashxThe Aaron Cohen Life Protection act unanimously passed the Florida Legislature and now goes to Governor Rick Scott to sign into a law.

This brings comfort to family and friends that have lost a loved one in hit and run accidents. The act seeks to change the law in Florida so “Leaving the Scene of an Accident” (LSA) will carry real consequences.

The act sees a problem with a gap in Florida law between DUI Manslaughter and Leaving the Scene of an Accident, giving an incentive to hit-and-run. Currently under Florida law, drivers under the influence who kill someone receive a minimum of four years in prison and those who leave the scene receive a lighter sentence.

The proposal makes the following changes to remove the incentive to flee, from http://www.aaroncohenlaw.org/a-summary-of-the-aaron-cohen-life-protection-act1:

  • A minimum mandatory sentence of 4 years for LSA/ death
  • Increase the existing minimum mandatory sentence from 2 to 4 years for LSA/death with DUI
  • Defines “Vulnerable Road User” (VRU) and creates a VRU enhancer in the criminal punishment code.
  • Requires a 3-year revocation of the offender’s driver’s license and prior to reinstatement, a driver’s ed course on the rights of VRUs.

The act is in memory of a Miami cyclist who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2012.  Michele Traverso struck Aaron Cohen and drove home to wait 18 hours until he turned himself into the police.

Traverso served less than two years in jail, followed by two years of community control.

Investigators have found evidence that Traverso was drinking before hitting Cohen, but his blood alcohol level could not be tested because he drove away.

Cohen’s wife has been quoted about the act saying, “we are hoping to save lives in addition to ultimately reduce the number of accidents.”

“It almost uprights the injustice of the criminal case. It’s a reminder of the things people can do when they get together and I think that’s a wonderful lesson for the children,” she said. “Our goal for the rest of our lives is to keep adding positive things and this is a major positive thing.”

To learn more about The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act visit http://www.aaroncohenlaw.org/aaron-cohen-life-protection-act.

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