Misdemeanor manslaughter bill moves to MD Senate this week

House Bill 363 (Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel, criminal negligence) moves to the Senate after unanimously passing the House last week and three DC-area state senators on the committee that will hear it are still undecided.

According to advocates for the bill, Senators Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery) (see map) and Victor Ramirez (D-Prince Georges) (see map) are still undecided about whether to support the proposed law.

The chairman of the committee, Brian Frosh, is a Montgomery County senator is also undecided, so it would be a good idea to contact him if you’re from his district.

The point of the bill is to close a legal loophole that allows sober drivers to kill due to negligence and walk away with just a ticket. This is what happened in the Curtis Leymeister crash, where the driver cleared ice from only a small area of her windshield, became distracted by something in her lap, and killed Leymeister. She got a $250 ticket.

to convict a sober driver of vehicular manslaughter requires proving that the driver knew that he or she might kill someone. And that is almost always impossible to prove.

If the Senate passes the bill as well, Maryland will join the majority of states in the nation by closing the loophole.