Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel – Criminal Negligence Myths and Facts

Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel- Criminal Negligence

Support this bill to close a significant loophole that currently exists in Maryland law

Do you know that:

  • Under current law, drivers who, when sober, flagrantly violate the rules of the road, deviate from the standard of care used by any reasonable person and cause fatalities, pay no more than$1000 in traffic court.

  • When enacted, this law would establish a misdemeanor option for those who cause fatalities by driving in a criminally negligent manner

Myths & Facts

  • Maryland has existing legislation that covers this offense - Myth

FACT: This bill establishes a standard of negligence that falls between gross negligence (for conviction of manslaughter by vehicle) and of simple negligence

  • The definition of criminal negligence is vague - Myth

FACT: Courts have found that the Model Penal Code’s definition of negligence is not unconstitutionally vague

  • This bill does not establish a standard that is meaningfully different from existing law - Myth

FACT: Criminal Law Article §2-209 requires proof of gross negligence for conviction. This is defined as “wanton or reckless disregard for human life. This bill does not require that conduct be “extraordinary or outrageous”.

  • This bill will impose penalties on drivers when there is a fatality as a result of simple negligence. - Myth

FACT: This bill requires that both the risk created by the person’s action and a deviation from the standard of care involved in the failure to perceive the risk be substantial. Thus, it requires more than simple negligence

Why is this important for you as a legislator and citizen of Maryland?

  • This will bring Maryland in line with the Model Penal Code approach used in more than 20 states

  • Inherently, this will make Maryland roads safer

  • It will help reduce fatalities on Maryland’s roads

  • It will hold people accountable for criminally negligent behaviors

From: Bike Maryland's Myths and Facts Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel
Related: Greater Greater Washington's - Prosecuting negligent driving is tough; time for new laws?

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