Newlywed Chris Coffey Dies After Hit-and-Run in Florida
Chris Coffey and his wife married on September 11, 2021. The couple had been together for ten years. On Sunday, September 12, they were on their way to celebrate their honeymoon when their truck was hit by a white Dodge Charger merging onto Interstate 95. Florida Highway Portal reported that the newlywed’s truck, when struck, rolled 8-10 times. Mary Coffey sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Chris Coffey went into a coma. On September 19, a week after his wedding, his parents decided to take their son off life support. Chris was at a job he loved, he had just gotten married to the love of his life, and that was all halted in an instant. His friends and family described Chris as a kind man on the cusp of beginning his life.
The identity of the driver is unknown because they fled the scene. Chris’ death has changed the initial investigation from a hit-and-run case to a traffic homicide case. Florida troopers are looking for the white Dodge Charger. The car is said to have sustained front-end damage and has a black-painted spoiler on the back. Traffic homicide investigators are looking for cars that meet the description within a 10-mile radius. They ask to be contacted at Crimeline at 1800-423-TIPS if a car meeting the description is spotted.
The Consequences of a Hit-and-Run in Florida
In Florida, an estimated 1 in 4 vehicles flee after an accident but fleeing the scene of an accident is a dangerous route to take. There are various reasons someone may need to or want to flee the scene. Someone may flee after an accident because they are afraid or because they are driving without a license. Regardless of that reason, drivers should always stay at the scene of the accident. Florida drivers legally have to stay at the accident scene, assist in any injuries, and provide their information. If someone does flee the scene and there are fatalities, then the penalties may include:
- Minimum of four years in prison with a maximum of 30 years sentence
- Driver’s license revoked for a minimum of 3 years
- A fine of up to $10,000
Under Florida statute 316.027, a person involved in an accident resulting in a fatality must stop immediately and provide all the necessary information. A person violating this statute may face a first-degree felony charge.
Possible Defenses for Hit-and-Runs
There are several reasons you may face charges for leaving the scene of an accident in Central Florida, but there are still ways to defend yourself. The first step to defending yourself is hiring a defense attorney. Your defense attorney may use some of the following defenses depending on the facts of your case:
- Lack of knowledge that the crash occurred
- Dispute the identity of the driver
- Lack of knowledge there was an impact with a person or property
- Failed to stop due to distraction from other circumstances
- The other driver refused to receive identifying information
- The other driver became belligerent
If you flee the scene of an accident, contact our defense attorneys at Umansky Law Firm.
What is Vehicular Manslaughter?
Drivers who unintentionally cause accidents resulting in fatalities are subject to being charged with vehicular manslaughter. In Florida, the civil standard of negligence means that the driver did not follow the duty of care, and because of this failure, a crash occurred, resulting in a fatality.
Vehicular manslaughter, on the other hand, is a criminal offense. Police may charge an individual with vehicular manslaughter when a death has occurred due to negligent driving, driving while intoxicated, driving while falling asleep, or failing to abide by other road rules.
In Florida, vehicular manslaughter is a second-degree felony offense if the person charged stayed at the accident scene. However, a fatality caused by hit-and-run results in the criminal charge of a first-degree felony.
Under Florida statute 775.082, a person convicted of a second-degree felony may be penalized with incarceration for a maximum of 15 years in state prison. A first-degree felony is punishable by up to 30 years in state prison. Once convicted, another penalty for a first-degree felony is probation up to 15 years and a fine of 10,000.
Possible Defenses for Vehicular Manslaughter
A common defense in a vehicular manslaughter case is attempting to remove incriminating evidence. Incriminating evidence may include proof showing the driver was reckless. This evidence may consist of tests determining high alcohol levels or other causes for impairment. A defense attorney can argue to remove incriminating evidence by proving that the evidence was not obtained legally or may be violating their client’s constitutional rights. The defense attorney may also argue that the accident occurred due to other conditions outside the defendant’s control.
Contact Umansky Law Firm for Criminal Defense
At Umansky Law Firm, we believe everyone deserves a second chance. A criminal conviction can completely change the course of your life. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys at Umansky can help protect your rights, freedom, and future. With more than 100 years of combined experience, we have the skills and knowledge to handle criminal charges pressed against you. As former state prosecutors, we know how to look for weak spots in the persecution case. Call our office or fill out this form for a free consultation.