Negligent drivers, whether they operate passenger vehicles or commercial delivery trucks or tractor-trailer rigs, should be help accountable for their actions behind the wheel. In Maryland, the penalties for reckless driving involving fatalities can appear to be hardly sufficient considering the results that are evident. Not a week goes by that it seems we hear at least one news story of a traffic fatality on one of this state’s busy roadways.
As a Baltimore automobile accident lawyer, I and my colleagues fight a seemingly never ending battle for car crash victims and their families. It makes not difference whether a person is hurt as a result of a semi truck hitting their car or another passenger vehicle slamming into their sedan, minivan or SUV. The pain and suffering sustained during the accident and afterward can be substantial.
Not long ago we reported on a bill introduced into the Maryland state legislature that would increase the penalties for drivers found guilty of reckless and negligent driving in instance where the driver’s action led to the death or serious injury of another individual. It’s heartening to know now that the bill has already received support in the form of a successful vote in the Senate and will soon be moving on to the House.
According to news reports, the bill introduced by Sen. Bryan Simonaire and known as the Joseph Norfolk Act was initially inspired by the June 2007 traffic death of Cpl. Scott Wheeler of Millersville. The 31-year-old Wheeler, Howard County police officer, was struck by a passing car while on patrol duty. The office was reportedly hit a Nissan Sentra on Route 32 after he attempted to pull the driver over for speeding. He died several days later. At the time of that crash, investigators said the 24-year-old woman driving the Nissan didn’t see Wheeler in the road. She eventually paid $310 in fines.
If passed by the House, this new law would set the maximum fine for both negligent driving and reckless driving at $1,000 – double the current fine. The bill also calls for a loss of license for up to 180 days if the defendant is convicted. At the time of the news article, there was as yet no date set for a vote in the House.
Reckless driving bill passes state Senate, HometownAnnapolis.com, March 17, 2010