Archive for March 23rd, 2011
Earlier today we provided an update on the status of MD House Bill 363.
The following further update is provided by Bike Maryland:
Confirmation was received late last night that the House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed House Bill 363 – Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle Criminal Negligence – out of Committee! This is terrific news. Today another positive bill vote took place on the House floor (2nd reader). The final House vote (3rd reader) will take place by this Friday, March 25th.
It is absolutely critical that you please contact BOTH your Maryland General Assembly Delegate(s) AND Senator and ask them to support House Bill 363. If each of us makes a two minute call – our leaders will listen and we will successfully pass this bill.
The bill will need to be voted on favorably by the House for it to move to the Senate for a vote. If voted on favorably by the Senate, we expect the Governor to sign the bill into law. This is the first time in seven years that this bill will hopefully (with your support) make it to the Senate for a vote. Please contact BOTH your State Delegate(s) AND Senator to let them know that you are a constituent and want them to support House Bill 363.
Enter your home address HERE to identify your Delegate(s) and Senator – they will be listed on the left side of the screen. Click on their name for contact information.
There have been far too many bicycle and pedestrian fatalities, caused by motorists, on Maryland roads. Motorists are not penalized adequately and get off with a minor traffic court slap on the hand. Please make a call to your leaders and you will be supporting justice for bicyclists and walkers and those who love someone who bikes or walks.
Bill to create new crime of negligent homicide by vehicle clears major hurdle in Maryland House Committee
In the Maryland General Assembly, House Bill 363 (Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel, criminal negligence) unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee, with amendments. The bill would create a new crime of negligent homicide by vehicle or vessel, with a maximum term of three years.
The existing crime of manslaughter by vehicle requires proof that the defendant consciously disregarded a substantial risk of killing someone. Except for drivers who were either drunk or at least 30 mph faster than the speed of traffic, no one has been convicted unless a witness at trial testified as to the driver’s state of mind, which makes it impossible to convict most solo drivers.
Maryland is one of only a handful of states where a conviction for vehicular homicide is so difficult. Under House Bill 363, it will be possible to convict a defendant who should have known there was a risk of killing someone, without proving that the defendant actually knew about the risk.
Passing the House Judiciary Committee is a major milestone. The bill has been introduced each of the last seven years, but never brought to a vote, due to the opposition of Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario (D-Prince Georges).
If you live in Maryland, please call your delegates and ask them to support the bill. Even if you only get their staff, calls make a much greater impression than emails. But emails are certainly worthwhile if you can only find the time after business hours.
Please act as soon as you can, because bills move fast this time of year. The amended bill has not yet been posted. In the next few days, we will provide an update on the amendments and what we need to do next.
(The author, Jim Titus, is a Member of the WABA Board of Directors and resident of Prince George’s County, MD.)