By: Sheriff Carmine Marceno
At times, I believe that people forget that driving a motor vehicle is a privilege…not a right granted by the Constitution.
As a privilege granted to those who demonstrate the skills and abilities necessary to operate a multi-ton piece of machinery, this privilege comes with a significant amount of responsibility.
Drivers are required to be licensed, insured, and unimpaired when driving. Additionally, drivers involved in vehicular collisions are mandated to remain at the scene.
Statewide, there were over 105,000 reported hit-and-run incidents in 2019. Between 2015 and 2020, 1,298 of these hit-and-run incidents resulted in death. This is unacceptable.
Of late, in the Lee County Sheriff’s Office East District, we have been averaging one reported hit-and-run each and every day. A significant number of these incidents have occurred on stretches of Lee Boulevard and Homestead Road.
ACCIDENTS HAPPEN. STAY AT THE SCENE.
Leaving the scene with property damage can result in 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. If injuries are involved, a second or third-degree felony has been committed and the driver faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Should you leave the scene of an accident that resulted in a fatality, you have committed a first-degree felony. You are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison, a maximum 30-year sentence, and a $10,000 fine.
While some believe that they can simply leave the scene and remain unidentified, the abundance of surveillance cameras and the plenitude of cell phone cameras have helped identify hit-and-run drivers.
I take these crimes seriously and have directed resources to address this matter. Lee County Sheriff’s Office vehicles, both marked and unmarked, will be focusing on hit-and-run incidents, as well as impaired and reckless driving. We’re out there and we’re watching.
Once again…stay at the scene. The consequences of leaving are overwhelming and devastating. Should you witness a hit-and-run incident, please immediately contact the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.