Commissioner Diaz commends Florida House for passing Aaron Cohen bill
(MIAMI-DADE COUNTY) – Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz and road safety advocates around the state scored a victory today as the Florida House passed a bill to stiffen penalties on hit-and-run drivers. The bill now awaits Gov. Rick Scott’s signature.
The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act would impose a minimium mandatory sentence of four years for drivers who flee the scene of a fatal accident – the same as for DUI manslaughter. The law was named in honor of cyclist Aaron Cohen, who was killed in 2012 on the Rickenbacker Causeway by a hit-and-run driver who was sentenced to less than a year in jail because there was insufficient evidence to prove he was drunk.
“This bill is a matter of safety and justice,” Commissioner Diaz said. “It will eliminate the incentive for drunk drivers to flee the scene of an accident to escape a breathalizer test while their blood alcohol levels are still high in order to avoid a DUI manslaughter charge.”
Commissioner Diaz has been a strong advocate for improving roadway safety. Last year, he sponsored a resolution urging the Florida Legislature to pass the Aaron Cohen bill. He has also worked closely with bicycling clubs and the Aaron Cohen Initiative on their lobbying efforts, and in January he traveled to Tallahassee to speak at a Senate hearing about the bill. He is now working on legislation to implement bicycle and pedestrian safety measures on the Rickenbacker Causeway and other roadways.