LETTER TO THE EDITOR
If you or your loved one is killed on a Maryland road by someone who is driving sober, but driving in a manner that substantially deviates from the standard of care used by a reasonable person, they will be issued traffic citations. Under the current law, the standard for gross negligence is extremely high.
If you are riding, driving, or walking on the road and are killed by a driver who is, not only speeding significantly above the limit, but he is also weaving in and out of traffic and talking on their cell phone while sipping coffee, this would not be prosecuted under the standard for gross negligence.
On January 29, HB 97, Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel- Criminal Negligence, introduced by Delegate Luiz Simmons, was heard in the Judiciary Committee. This bill provides prosecutors with an option in cases that do not meet the exceedingly high standards for gross negligence but are cases that are clearly far more egregious than simple negligence.
This bill establishes a separate offense for criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle or vessel. It clearly defines criminal negligence. It clearly indicates that simple negligence is not considered a violation of this act. It establishes penalties of not more than 3 years in jail and/or no more than a $5000 fine or both.
Delegate Vallario needs to be pressed to bring this bill forward for committee vote. Several years ago, the Senate unanimously passed this bill. However, Vallarios stonewalling prevented its enactment into law.
I encourage everyone to contact their state delegate by phone or email and to contact members of the Judiciary Committee by phone or email and Tell them to support HB 97.
Information about this bill can be read at:
http://mlis.state.md.us/2009rs/fnotes/bil_0007/hb0097.pdf (policy note)
Marylanders deserve safer roads and a measure of justice for those who abuse the safety of our citizen.