Florida state senator proposes tougher hit-and-run law, tightens punishment who drivers who flee

State senator wants 10-year minimum sentence

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Trying to but the brakes on hit-and-run drivers, a South Florida state legislator is pushing for stiffer penalties for driver who flee in response to a growing number of wrecks.

According to Florida Highway Patrol, hit-and-run crashes are up by 500 wrecks from 2011-to-2012.

To help curb the rise, state senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla has proposed a new law that would create stricter sentences for those convicted of a hit and run.

If passed, the law would create a 10-year mandatory minimum.
    
"I'm lucky to be alive. I'm lucky I got enough riding experience," said Art Skinner, a Royal Palm Beach motorcyclist who was hit in November.

Skinner has a fractured skull, broken ribs and a punctured lung.

The injuries are a result of him being knocked from his Harley-Davidson by a hit and run driver according to investigators.

FHP troopers said Danielle Fawcett did not stop to make sure he was "ok" and the said she fled the scene.

"If I hit a squirrel, I stop. I go see if it's alright or whatever. I guess it's what we were taught when we started driving. But apparently right now, people got it too easy, they don't care," said Skinner.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said the current law is frustrating and that there is a discrepancy.

"At the very least, our laws can reflect our priorities. Our laws can reflect that if you go ahead and kill someone on the road, then you flee, you should be held accountable and the punishment should be serious," said Aronberg.

In some cases, Aronberg said drivers involved in hit-and-runs will leave to avoid the DUI. Aronberg said the punishment for a DUI crash can be far more severe than it is for a hit-and-run.

In the case involving Art Skinner, it is not clear if alcohol was a factor. The suspect has not been charged with DUI.

But Skinner said he wants change, maybe the only good to come out of his nightmare.

"I'm still a human being, I still got people that love me and I want to be here. But those people who don't' have any consideration for anyone else, I pity them. They're going to deal with it one day," said Skinner.

The proposed senate bill was recently assigned to a transportation committee at the capital.

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