HB 363 to be Heard Monday in MD Senate

Below is an email from Edward Kohls–a lead advocate for the “Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel-Criminal Negligence” bill.

Hi.  I’m not sure if you are aware that this bill is one step from becoming law – against huge political odds – and we need your help.  This bill affects the safety of vehicles, vessels, walkers, runners, cyclists, bikers. There is one day left in the session, and it will be heard on Monday.  But we need action today and tomorrow.  We thought it would be voted on today, then the Senate adjourned for the day.  That provides a chance to give you a little better background on our efforts.  Please contact your members immediately and ask them to write their State Senators, or all of them.  The list is included below.

We have been battling for the past seven years to have a bill passed so that there is an adequate law in Maryland to punish drivers who recklessly kill pedestrians and cyclists.  My son was one of those.  I’ve included some info from an earlier email for you, below, and my most recent message from today.  We finally got the bill through both the House and Senate Committees (everyone who was opposed is surprised) and the Senate will vote on it on Monday.  Surprisingly, there are still some people who don’t want the law and they are lobbying hard, so we are asking everyone affected to contact their groups to generate support emails to their senators.

Here is a bit of background:

House Bill 363 (Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel – Criminal Negligence) passed unanimously in the House Chamber, and in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, with an amendment.  The bill now needs to go to the Senate Floor for a vote. Maryland’s current vehicular manslaughter law is extremely lenient allowing negligent drivers who kill to escape serious punishment.  Loopholes with the current law allow criminally negligent drivers “to get away with murder and often receive nothing more than a traffic ticket.”  For inistance the person who struck and killed my son was driving 65 in a 30 mph zone on a narrow road, accelerating to that speed in less than 700 feet.  He was 21 and had three suspensions prior to that for over 16 months.  He has shown no remorse.  He got 14 points, and paid $1200.  There are literally hundreds of similar cases but most often the fines are $300 to $400, with 4 or 5 points.  Maryland’s existing gross negligence law is so high a bar that these horrible cases cannot meet the standards.   HB 363 introduces a law in the middle between tickets and Gross Negligence. It would provide a monetary fine and up to 3 years in jail.  Bill information can be found at:  http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/billfile/hb0363.htm

Thank you.  Ed Kohls

Maryland Residents: Please CLICK HERE to email your state senator expressing your support for House Bill 363, as amended.