On Tuesday, as part of the D.C. Council’s marathon legislative session, the “Access to Justice for Bicyclists Act of 2012″ passed its second reading. This was the final point the bill needed to pass at the local level. The 30-day period of congressional review that applies to nearly all D.C. legislation will begin when the bill is signed by the Mayor.
The passage of this law is a big victory for D.C. bicyclists, as it will allow those who are intentionally assaulted on our roadways to seek redress in court. It will also bring consequences to motorists who inflict harm upon cyclists for using roadways. Too often, these cases have slipped through the cracks because criminal charges are not brought and the cyclist cannot afford legal representation. Thus, those who assault cyclists suffer no consequences.
The most difficult part of working at WABA is answering the phone and hearing of a cyclist who has been intentionally run off the road. We often hear of drivers shouting and cursing at cyclists simply for using a bike on the road and have until now had to admit that, in all likelihood, there are no real consequences for perpetrators of that kind of assault. Additionally, there’s been nothing to deter anyone from repeating the offense.
We are grateful to the D.C. Council for the passage of this law, and especially to Councilmember Tommy Wells, for initially introducing the bill, and to Chairman Phil Mendelson, for his work to improve it through the committee process.
In regards to my last comment, I have included links to what I have found, to include the "menacing manner" provisions of DC Assault law. Could any attorneys or other experts comment on how this criminal law might apply to a civil action in the civil courts here in DC? Would wearable camcorder video footage depicting a motorist swerving toward a bicyclist, even if no contact or collision occurs, meet the burden of proof that was referred to when the ATJFBA was moving through the DC Council?
The DC Code: § 22-404 Assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner; stalking.
Index → 22 Criminal Offenses and Penalties. (Refs & Annos)
(1) Whoever unlawfully assaults, or threatens another in a menacing manner, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or be imprisoned not more than 180 days, or both.
Whoever unlawfully assaults, or threatens another in a menacing manner, and intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes significant bodily injury to another shall be fined not more than $3,000 or be imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term "significant bodily injury" means an injury that requires hospitalization or immediate medical attention.
Has anyone heard of, or had any experience of a civil action being brought before the courts pursuant to this new law? I'm finding very little discussion or other current news regarding this law in my research.
Looks like this is fully enacted at this point: