The Washington Post has an article on a bill proposed by Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons (D-Montgomery) that would make it easier to prosecute reckless drivers by creating a new middle ground between traffic citations and felony vehicular manslaughter, which Maryland prosecutors are loath to bring in all but the most egregious cases.
Under the proposal, drivers could be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to three years in jail in fatal accident cases in which they display negligence that results in “substantial risk” to public safety.
I have dealt with the frustration of the families of Marylanders who are angry that the death of someone they love is dealt with criminally with the same traffic citation a driver gets for a petty traffic offense. On the other hand, there is some question in defining the “substantial risk” test because it is hard to evaluate the risk taken when you know the answer already: the victim died in the accident. Tough issue. I articulated some of these mixed feelings on the Maryland Accident Lawyer Blog back in October.