Gov. Scott Signs Florida Road Safety Bills

new law goes into effect on July 1

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Gov. Rick Scott signed a pair of bills Tuesday aimed at improving safety on Florida roads.

Scott approved measures toughening penalties for drivers who leave the scenes of serious traffic accidents (SB 102) and raising the minimum age at which children can ride in motor vehicles without restraining devices (HB 225).

The hit-and-run bill, sponsored by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, is named after Aaron Cohen, a 36-year-old bicyclist who was killed in a 2012 accident on the Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami-Dade County.

The legislation would, among other provisions, create a four-year minimum mandatory sentence for drivers who leave the scenes of accidents involving deaths and require that an offender’s driver’s license be revoked for three years. The new law goes into effect on July 1.

Gov. Rick Scott
Gov. Rick Scott

“Creating the appropriate penalties for hit-and-run drivers is the right thing to do for our state,” Diaz de la Portilla said in a statement provided by Scott’s office. 

The car-seat law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, requires children up to 5 years old to be placed in car seats or booster seats when riding in a vehicle. Currently, only children 3 years old and younger are required to ride in the restraining devices.

“With this initiative, we are working to ensure our children travel safely and remain protected on the road,” Scott said. “We will continue to do all we can to keep every Floridian safe, so they can enjoy everything our great state has to offer with their loved ones.”

Kevin Bakewell, vice president of AAA Auto Club South, issued a statement with measured praise for the bill, though his organization recommends children use at least a booster seat until they are 4-foot-9 — a height they usually reach when they are 8 to 12 years old.

kevin-bakewell-180“While this law does not cover all children who need to be safely restrained, it is a step in the right direction,” Bakewell said. “On matters of public safety, Florida’s parents look to state law for solid guidance. That’s why this law is so important.”

Scott’s actions Tuesday mean that HB 561, relating to attorneys for dependent children with special needs, is the only bill approved by the Legislature this spring that the governor hasn’t signed or vetoed.