Maryland law will increase penalties after fatal bike crashes

Knowing the laws of Maryland is important because that knowledge can save you from getting into legal trouble. Also, knowledge is power when you are faced with a legal dilemma. Accidents happen to everyone, specifically traffic accidents since almost all of us drive every day.

When traffic violations and negligent driving lead to a fatal accident, it is a serious matter. And now, Maryland bicycle safety advocates feel that they have won with the passage of new legislation relating to car-bicycle accidents ending in the death of a cyclist.

When the law soon goes into effect, the penalties that negligent drivers face after a deadly accident will be more severe than they are now. Sources say that currently, the maximum penalty a driver faces is a $300 fine. That is about to change.

With the passage of House Bill 363, when a driver is found to be criminally negligent after a fatal car-bike accident, the fine could be much higher and that’s not all. A driver could be required to pay up to a $5,000 fine, plus spend as many as three years in jail.

According to the bill, a defendant would be found criminally negligent if the following circumstances surround the fatal accident:

  • The person [defendant] should be aware, but fails to perceive, that the person’s conduct creates a substantial risk that such a result will occur
  • The failure to perceive constitutes a substantial deviation from the standard of care that would be exercised by a reasonable person

We will post more about the new Maryland legislation when it goes into effect in October. Until then, feel free to post any comments or questions you might have about the new law or other traffic violation-related issues.

Source “Maryland adds protection for cyclist,” Kirsten Frattini, 1 May 2011

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