Drivers who are involved in a Tampa car accident have a legal responsibility to remain at the scene until they have ensured that no one has been injured. Unfortunately, many drivers choose to leave the scene of an accident in order to avoid possible criminal or civil liabilities.
A new bill introduced by state Senator Mike Fasano (R, New Port Richey) would create tougher penalties for leaving the scene of a Florida car accident. If the bill is passed, individuals who are found guilty of leaving the scene of vehicle crashes resulting in injury would be convicted of a second degree felony instead of a third degree felony. This would have the effect of increasing the severity of the punishments applicable to a conviction.
Fasano explained to Fox 13 that he was moved to introduce this legislation by a story that was recently covered by the news agency. In January 2009, hit-and-run driver Louisa Jaar was involved in Pinellas Park car accident resulting in the injury of teenagers Jessica Mathews and Brandon Gaby.
Jaar was operating a Corvette on 102nd Avenue N when she collided with the pair riding a scooter. Fluid leaking from the car following the accident was traced by police to Jaar’s ex-boyfriend’s home. Officers proceeded to charge Jaar with both reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury. She was later convicted and sentenced to five years of probation under the condition that she return to jail for the weekends for one year.
Fasano introduced Senate Bill 286 to increase the penalties for these types of crimes, including many Tampa hit-and-run accidents. The bill was official introduced to the Florida Senate January 10, 2012.