Saturday, June 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Holding drivers accountable for accidents

Starting today in Florida, drivers who flee an accident involving a death will face mandatory prison time, and any hit-and-run driver involved in an accident with serious injuries will be committing a second-degree felony. Pushed by grass roots activists, this commonsense law reinforces the social contract that the well-being of crash victims trumps a driver's potential self-interest. Law enforcement officials should widely promote their new tool and let motorists know that driving away after an accident is a gamble they no longer can afford to take.

Florida's lax laws on hit-and-run incidents have created an environment where drivers involved in car crashes often step on the gas rather than wait for law enforcement. One devastating incident after another bears witness to the disturbing trend. Just last week, St. Petersburg police said Marquice Anderson fled after driving the wrong way down a street and smashing into a car, killing three young mothers. Anderson stayed on the run for several days before turning himself in Monday.

In 2012, about 17,000 people were injured in hit-and-run crashes in Florida, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Of that total, 166 died. Too often, perpetrators don't see much downside to fleeing, particularly if they have been drinking. The new law, the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, was named for just such a case. Cohen, a 36-year-old father, was riding his bicycle in Miami in 2012 when he was struck by a car. The hit-and-run driver turned himself in 18 hours later but ultimately received a sentence of less than two years — less than he might have faced had police had been able to pursue evidence toward a DUI manslaughter charge.

The new law requires drivers involved in a crash with serious injuries or death to remain at the accident scene. Failure to do so results in felony charges and, in the case of a death, a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison. Separately, people who flee while driving under the influence also face a four-year mandatory minimum sentence, double the old punishment. All convicted hit-and-run drivers will have their licenses revoked for at least three years.

No one should hit someone and drive away. Stopping could provide the chance to assist the injured or call for help. And it shouldn't take a law to promote common decency. But rapid and regular enforcement of this new law reinforces that with the privilege of driving also comes the responsibility to stay at the scene. Always.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

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Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

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Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

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Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

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Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

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Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18