Are Some Md. Motorists Getting Away With Murder?

Some Maryland motorists are getting away with murder, that's what families of victims of negligent drivers went to Annapolis to tell Maryland lawmakers.

Some supporters peddled from Baltimore to the State House in Annapolis on behalf of cyclists who have been killed by negligent drivers they said were given nothing more than a traffic ticket  and a fine.

On Sept. 19, 2010, Natasha Pettigrew, the Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate, was killed riding her bike along Route 202 near Prince George’s Community College. A 2005 Cadillac Escalade struck her. The driver continued home a distance of four miles, dragging Pettigrew’s bike under the car's grill. The driver called police to report that she had hit something but assumed it was an animal. The case is still under review by the Prince George’s County State’s attorney.

Pettigrew’s mother went to Annapolis to support a bill that makes it manslaughter when a driver's negligence results in death.

"A person (now) can easily get a $100 fine and a citation because gross negligence is almost impossible to prove," Kenniss Henry said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering the bill that would create a new criminal law called manslaughter by vehicle criminal negligence.

"I'm concerned about it," said Committee Chairman Sen. Brian Frosh, of Bethesda. "I think everybody wants people to be held accountable for deaths on the highway, and of course I do as well. I just want to make sure that we're not unnecessarily putting people in jail for negligence."

Richard Moser was killed while working for the State Highway administration in Frederick County in 2007.

"The driver received a ticket and fine of $280 and three points on his license, and because it was a negligent driving charge it did not require a court appearance," said his widow, Laurie Moser.

The bill that would replace that kind of lenient treatment with real criminal penalties has passed the Maryland House of Delegates but faces obstacles in the Senate.

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