Most hit-and-run car accidents in Florida caused by drunk drivers

February 21, 2014

Hit-and-run car accidents are a major problem in Florida. According to WJHG-TV, about three people are killed in hit-and-run crashes each week in Florida, on average. With more than 70,000 hit-and-run accidents taking place in 2012, there were surely even more people who survived, only to have to deal with disabling injuries.Some observers say that most hit-and-run drivers flee the scene because they are drunk, and do not want to be arrested for DUI. So they go home to sober. An official with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers says that 80 percent of hit-and-run car accidents involve a drunk driver. She and others believe that Florida’s criminal statutes encourage this behavior. Currently, a conviction for DUI manslaughter carries a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison. But standard vehicular manslaughter does not have a mandatory minimum. In theory, this means that if prosecutors cannot prove that a drunk driver was impaired when he or she fatally struck someone because the driver fled the scene, the defendant could receive a lighter sentence -- although hit and run is also a crime in Florida.Many hit-and-run victims are motorcyclists and bike riders. WJHG says that many riders are supporting a bill to create a four-year mandatory minimum for vehicular manslaughter. The bill passed a state Senate committee by a 9-0 vote. It must be approved by a second committee before it can go up for debate before the Senate.Someone who is injured by a hit-and-run driver has the right to seek damages from the driver, whether the driver was drunk or not. Source: WJHG-TV, “Hit and Run Incentives,” Feb. 20, 2014

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