A bill that is calling for a Maryland reckless driving law would make it easier to prosecute reckless drivers if passed. The proposal calls for drivers who were responsible for causing a motor vehicle fatality because they exhibited negligence leading to “substantial risk” of safety to be charged with a misdemeanor crime. The penalty would be up to three years in jail.
Maryland Delegate Luiz R.S. Simmons (D-Montgomery) has been pushing for this law for five years. He claims that the state’s standard for proving vehicular homicide is too high.
Currently, some 30 US states have laws that allow reckless driving charges even if the driver did not exhibit “gross negligence.” The bill has died every year so far because the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Del. Joseph F. Vallario, has not called for a vote on the matter.
This week, Mary Gray, the mother of a 20-year-old man who died after he was hit by an off-duty Prince George’s County police officer, testified in Annapolis in support of the reckless driving bill. Officer Mario Chavez, who admitted to drinking on the night before the deadly Maryland auto crash, was not charged in her son’s death.
The state’s attorney for Prince George’s County found that there was insufficient evidence to charge the police officer with vehicular manslaughter, which is an offense that requires proof that the driver was grossly negligent. Instead, Chavez was issued a traffic ticket for the deadly December 2007 accident.
Now Brian’s family is suing Chavez and Prince George’s County for his wrongful death.
While state laws can vary in terms of how incidents of “reckless driving” are defined and criminally prosecuted, there is no doubt that driving carelessly or recklessly can lead to serious motor vehicle accidents resulting in personal injury or wrongful death. Driving at excessive speeds, drunk driving, and other reckless acts can be grounds for a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit if someone else dies as a result.
Reckless Driving Law Is Urged, Washington Post, January 29, 2009
Mother Waits For Answers In Crash That Killed Son, WUSA9.com, May 17, 2008
Related Web Resources:
Wrongful Death, Justia
Maryland State Highway Administration