August 4, 2020
The Justin McWilliams Act
In the photo below, Governor Jeb Bush signs the Justin McWilliams Act into Law effective October 1, 2006. Attending the Signing Ceremony held in Tallahassee, FL on June 23, 2006, from left to right: State Representative Dennis Ross; Representative Larry Cretul; Pastor Tim Gunter (The McWilliams’ Family Pastor) and his wife Debbie; Governor Bush; Mark and Jamie McWilliams; Daphne Pfaff (who was a recipient of Justin’s Cornea) and her husband David.
On April 7, 2002, 20-year old Justin McWilliams was struck and killed as he was exiting a party in a pasture in Winter Garden, Fl. Charges were filed against the 18-year old driver and subsequently dismissed for what was termed a “legal loophole” in the Florida Statutes. At the time of Justin’s death, State Uniform Traffic Rules did not apply to private property. Unable to obtain criminal accountability in Justin’s death, and in an effort to help that next victim and their family of a hit and run incident, the McWilliams Family chose to move forward, via legislative intent, to close that “loophole” in the Florida Statutes.
State Representative Dennis Ross and Senator Carey Baker championed the Justin McWilliams Bill through the 2005 and 2006 Florida Legislative Sessions. Jamie McWilliams testified before more than a dozen committees in the Florida House and Senate seeking support of the Bill named in honor of her son. Two (2) years after the McWilliams Family began their quest to make the difference, The Justin McWilliams Act was unanimously approved during the 2006 Legislative Session. On June 23, 2006, Governor Jeb Bush signed The Justin McWilliams Act into law effective October 1, 2006. The genesis of this law requires the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property, that results in injury or death, to immediately stop the vehicle and remain at the scene until emergency vehicles arrive. It further increases the penalty to a 1 st Degree Felony for Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Death, up to 30-years in prison and a $10,000. Fine.
Since the Justin McWilliams Act has gone into effect, Jamie McWilliams has received numerous supportive emails from those families affected by hit and run crashes throughout the State of Florida.
Click here to read the McWilliams’ Journey through the Legislative Process