The death of Heather Heyer, one of the protesters who was just recently run over by an alt-right demonstrator in Charlottesville, Virginia has shed light on a number of bills that were introduced this past year in six states, including Florida, that would provide protections for drivers who caused injury or death to protesters, according to CNN. Such a bill, if made into law, would give the driver a limited amount of legal protection so long as they did not cause the collision intentionally. However, no such law yet exists in Florida. If you have been charged with intentionally hitting a pedestrian, a protestor, or another road user, you need to speak with a West Palm Beach attorney at once.
So Far, Florida’s Two Driver Immunity Bills Have Both Died
Earlier this year, some Florida lawmakers attempted to create a law that would give drivers immunity if they hit, injured, or killed a protester, so long as the driver did not do so willfully. Senate Bill 1096, which did not pass the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee, stated that in order to be free from liability upon hitting a pedestrian, a driver must be “exercising due care.” The pedestrian would have to be in the roadway protesting and intentionally blocking vehicles. If the driver willfully caused bodily harm, they could still be held liable. However, if the injured person were to file a lawsuit against the driver, the burden of proof that the driver intentionally caused the collision would rest with the plaintiff (the injured person), not the defendant (the driver). Additionally, the bill stated that a person “may not obstruct or interfere” with the flow of traffic unless they have a public assembly permit. House Bill 1419, which was a similar bill, also failed to pass through the Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee.
Florida Vehicular Homicide
According to Florida statute 782.071, vehicular homicide is “the killing of a human being, or the killing of a viable fetus by any injury to the mother, caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another.” Vehicular homicide is a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, or is a first degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, if the driver failed to stop and render aid to the victim.
First or Second Degree Murder Using a Vehicle as a Deadly Weapon
Just because a vehicle was used to kill another person does not mean that the maximum penalty will be vehicular homicide. If it can be proven that the driver intentionally killed another, they may face first or second degree murder charges. Second degree murder is punishable as a first degree felony, while first degree murder is a life felony.
Call an Attorney Now for Help
If you have been charged with reckless driving causing serious bodily injury to another, vehicular homicide, or murder, you need to speak with a lawyer at once. The West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys of the Skier Law Firm offer professional legal services and will aggressively defend your rights in and out of the courtroom.