Hit and Runs Facing Stiffer Penalties?

Cyclists riding down Florida roads are often faced with drivers with drivers not paying attention. “Oh yeah, I’ve been hit twice by cars here in town,” said Jack Tomassetti.

Tomassetti has been riding for 12 years; he says it’s essential for all cyclists to be aware of their surroundings. “For the cars, just know we’re out there.”

New legislation is being considered to protect cyclists. It would strengthen laws protecting vulnerable road users, including cyclists. The bill is being introduced after the 20-12 death of 36-year-old Aaron Cohen in South Florida. The driver involved in the accident fled the scene – and turned himself in later. Some believe the driver was drinking and turned himself in after sobering up.

The legislation would enforce mandatory minimums, one of those mean everyone involved in a hit and run accident would loose their drivers license for three years.

“Anytime there is a change for behavior that’s good for people who are on the road, especially bikes or pedestrians its gonna be good,” said defense attorney Ethan Way.

Way says he supports stronger laws protecting cyclists but worries the law would prosecute the wrong people. “You could end up in a situation where people who have a potential legitimate reaction, an unlawful reaction, like of fear might be caught in the net.”

The legislature would make hit and runs with serious injury a 2nd degree felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Committee hearing begin the week of September 23rd.