News Release Header
For Immediate Release:
January 09, 2014
Media Contact:
Olga Vega


Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz speaks in Tallahassee to increase penalties for hit-and-run drivers

Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz urges the Florida Senate to stiffen penalties against hit-and-run drivers.

Miami, FL – A state bill to increase penalties for hit-and-run driving is one step closer to becoming law. The “Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act,” which would make it a second-degree felony to leave the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury, was approved by the Florida Senate Transportation Committee on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. It has not yet been scheduled for a vote of the full Senate.

Commissioner Jose ''Pepe'' Diaz traveled to Tallahassee to speak at the Transportation Committee, where he urged committee members to support this very important bill. Commissioner Diaz was joined by several bicycling clubs and the Aaron Cohen Safety Initiative, a grassroots group of concerned citizens who also are urging the legislature to impose mandatory minimums for leaving the scene of a crash. Commissioner Diaz, who last April sponsored a resolution urging the Florida Legislator for tougher sentences to drivers found guilty of leaving the scene of a crime, welcomed the latest development.

''I’m very happy to see the Florida Senate take up this important bill, and I urge the full Senate and House to pass it as soon as possible because we need to take much tougher action against hit-and-run drivers who have no regard for human life,'' Commissioner Diaz said.

The bill proposes a mandatory minimum sentence of four years for drivers who leave the scene of a crash that results in a person’s death, regardless of whether the driver was driving under the influence. Currently, the law provides a 2-year mandatory minimum sentence only for drivers who were under the influence.  In addition, drivers who leave the scene of a crash would lose their license for at least three years and have to complete driver education courses about “vulnerable road users,” such as cyclists, pedestrians, person riding a horse and emergency service workers.

The proposed state law was inspired by the 2012 death of Miami cyclist Aaron Cohen, the victim of a hit-and-run driver who was sentenced to less than a year in jail, sparking widespread outrage.

In 2012, Miami-Dade County reported 12,813 incidents of drivers leaving the scene of a crash, the highest in Florida.

For more information, please contact Commissioner Diaz’s office at 305-599-1200.