Last year, bike advocates celebrated the passing the Criminally Negligent Manslaughter – by Vehicle or Vessel (Maryland law §2-210). As a result of this law, people who cause fatalities because they drive in a criminally negligent manner, may face jail time and/or stiffer fines rather than merely paying a few hundred dollars in traffic court. We do NOT want this law to be changed!
Sponsored by Baltimore County’s District 6 Senator Norman Stone, SB942 would change the definition of a “vehicle” to exclude a “motor vehicle,” and it mentions a very narrow list of reprehensible acts. This would mean that someone who drives a car, bus, SUV, or truck and takes unjustifiable risks that cause a fatality would pay a few traffic fines through traffic court. This bill also removes a prosecutor’s ability to use good judgment to bring to trial those who have caused a fatality by driving in a criminally negligent way.
Bike Maryland has worked tirelessly for years as legislators struggled to find the best wording that would close the previous gap in Maryland law. The passage of the bill that enacted Criminally Negligent Manslaughter – by Vehicle or Vessel closed that loophole and gave Marylanders some comfort in knowing that, over time, our roads will be safer because people are being held accountable for egregious, risky driving behaviors. If SB942 passes, there will, again, be a loophole in Maryland law that will let criminally negligent drivers get away with manslaughter. We know that cyclists and pedestrians are most vulnerable to risk taking drivers.
Thanks to Bike Maryland, you can let the State Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee know that you oppose SB942 by CLICKING HERE (It only takes 2 minutes!). The committee will hear SB942 on Tuesday, March 20th.