Miami-Dade County Commissioners Pass Resolution Proposing Stricter Penalties for Hit and Run Drivers

South Florida is known as the hit and run capital of the country.

By Christina Hernandez
|  Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013  |  Updated 11:30 PM EDT
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Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose

Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz introduced the resolution, passed Tuesday, which proposes stricter penalties for hit and run drivers. Commissioners Javier Soto and Sally Heyman and Edna Walsh, a friend of hit and run victim Aaron Cohen, also discussed the issue.

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Stricter Penalties Are Needed in Hit-and-Run Cases, Relatives of Victims Say

Patti Cohen and Adonay Rosete believe a new law with stricter penalties would help prevent hit-and-runs.
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Miami-Dade Commissioners passed a resolution on Tuesday proposing stricter penalties for hit and run drivers.

South Florida is known as the hit and run capital of the country.

"It's become an epidemic," Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz said. "I'm a cyclist and I've almost been hit four time in the last month. This is getting to the point of ridiculous."

Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz introduced the resolution, which calls for seven years imprisonment for leaving the scene with injuries, 10 years if someone dies.

Stricter Penalties Are Needed in Hit-and-Run Cases, Relatives of Victims Say

Right now, there is no minimum.

The man who hit and killed Aaron Cohen on the Rickenbacker Causeway last year served less than a year behind bars - a sentence his friend and fellow bike rider Edna Walsh calls a disgrace.

"I was riding with Aaron Cohen the morning he was killed and it's a very frightening experience to be lying on the side of the road unable to move, having a friend lying in the middle of the road unconscious and nobody around to help," Walsh said. "That's what happened that morning. The driver left the scene. He chose to protect himself instead of taking care of the two people he hit."

For Walsh, it's personal. It also is personal for another commissioner, Javier Souto

"My dad was killed by a hit and run driver many years ago at the entrance of Coral Gables and to this day that's in my mind," Souto said.

Commissioner Sally Heyman offered a possible issue.

"When you impose mandatory minimum terms, sometimes it's harder to get a conviction," Heyman said. "The last thing we want is have it have a reverse impact where they're not finding someone guilty. They're pleaing down to go to reckless because they don't want to have someone go to jail for 10 years."

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