You are on page 1of 2

AAA Mid-Atlantic News Release

1405 G Street, NW Lon Anderson Office 202-481-6820

Washington, DC 20005 Cell– 703-980-8868 John B. Townsend II Office 202-481-6820
Media Inquiries 1-877-CARS-AAA Cell – 202-253-2171


Current Loopholes Allow Negligent Drivers To Get Away With Murder, Victims Say

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Tuesday, March 29, 2011) – AAA Mid-Atlantic today called on Maryland
lawmakers, specifically the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, to vote in favor of House Bill 363 to
close a glaring “loophole” in Maryland’s vehicular manslaughter laws that often allow negligent drivers who
kill people on Maryland roads to escape convictions.

Last week the full House voted unanimously (137-0) in support of HB 363, which has been
sponsored year after year by Delegate Luiz R. S. Simmons (D- District 17). The bill is now in the hands of
the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, where advocates fear the bill may meet resistance or die in
Committee as it did last year after being amended. Advocates are calling on Maryland legislators to do the
right thing and give more serious sanctions to those whose negligence behind the wheel leads to the death of
another. “It is cosmically absurd to give little more than a traffic ticket to someone who takes the life of a
pedestrian or another driver by the reckless operation of a motor vehicle,” Delegate Simmons stated.

“This much-needed legislation addresses a critical loophole that traffic safety advocates, including
AAA and the families of victims have been trying to fix for nearly 15 years,” said Mahlon G. (Lon)
Anderson, Managing Director of Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “It’s a
loophole so large that negligent and irresponsible Maryland drivers who kill have been escaping through it
for years,” Anderson continued.

“The legislation will increase penalties for those who drive – with criminal negligence – causing a
crash that kills someone,” commented Anderson. “As the law stands now, many who kill with a motor
vehicle often only face fines and are often not even required to appear in court.”

Although vehicular manslaughter laws vary from state to state, Maryland has an extremely high
standard for convicting a reckless driver who has killed someone on Maryland roads, critics of the current
law say. To combat this, victims’ families, legislators and advocates today called Maryland’s existing laws
“extremely lenient” and urged the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and the Maryland General
Assembly to tighten the state’s vehicular manslaughter laws.

“This legislation serves to fill a big hole that exists in our law with regard to those who cause deaths
on our roads and highways. This legislation creates an appropriate level of negligence where the result is not

AAA- AAA Joins Other Advocates In Hopes Of Changing Vehicular Manslaughter Laws

just the tragic consequences of an accident but rather the consequences of criminal misconduct,” said
William Katcef, of the State’s Attorneys’ Association.

Key to this morning’s call on legislators were the families who have been personally impacted at the
hands of negligent drivers on Maryland roads and whose lives have been forever changed as a result. Mr.
Edward Kohls, of Baltimore County is the father of Connor Kohls, who was killed by a reckless driver on
August 11, 2008 right in front of his home. Connor was only 15 years old. Mr. Kohls stated, “Each year so
many innocent people are destroyed by irresponsible drivers in Maryland. Our state is one of just a few
states whose laws treat manslaughter by irresponsible drivers as a necessary inconvenience of our times,
rather than the horribly irresponsible action that it is. HB 363 makes all the sense in the world.”

Also on hand was long-time advocate, Adiva Sotzsky whose husband Harry was killed while riding
his motorcycle on July 22, 2004. The trucker who killed Mr. Sotzsky walked away, after simply paying a
$500 traffic citation. “It is embarrassing that Maryland has this massive loophole in its law. When you look
at the statutes and accompanying penalties in other states, this bill is more than fair and sensible. It provides
a measure of justice for all concerned,” stated Mrs. Sotzsky of Rockville.

Senate Minority Leader and a co-sponsor of last year’s Senate-version of the bill, Senator Nancy
Jacobs (R- District 34) stated, “This legislation is of significance so prosecutors will be able to more
effectively prosecute cases involving negligent and irresponsible drivers, whose negligent actions lead to the
loss of life on our State's roads."

Other traffic safety advocates in support of HB 363 included representatives from the biking
community. "Cyclists on Maryland roadways, lacking the protection of a motor vehicle, need the protection
of the law to keep them safe,” stated Shane Farthing, Executive Director of the Washington Area Bicyclist
Association. “Negligence can kill--and has killed--cyclists in Maryland. Due to deficiencies in current law, a
negligent driver who takes the life of a cyclist often receives no criminal punishment. State law should value
life more highly than this, and House Bill 363 is the mechanism to ensure that, when a driver's negligence
does take the life of another, an appropriate penalty is available.”

If passed and enacted into law, HB 363 would make it a “misdemeanor for a person to cause the
death of another as a result of the person's driving, operating, or controlling” a vehicle, motorboat or
watercraft “in a criminally negligent manner.”

Interestingly, the bill has been before Maryland’s Legislature for many years, with Delegate
Simmons, as the key proponent, laboring for its passage without success. “AAA Mid- Atlantic is encouraged
and pleased to see that the vehicular manslaughter bill not only was voted upon this year in the House
Judiciary Committee, but that it also passed the full House unanimously,” stated Anderson. Supporters of the
bill say a change in the law is long overdue.

“We appreciate that the House of Delegates understands this and passed it last week. We hope that
individuals in the Senate JPR will look beyond personal agendas and approve this bill for the protection of
all Marylanders,” added Mr. Kohls.

AAA Mid-Atlantic advocates on behalf of its nearly four million members in the District of Columbia,
Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. It provides a wide range of personal insurance, travel,
financial and automotive services through its 50-plus retail branches, regional operations centers, and the Internet.
For more information, please visit our web site at