Thursday, March 4, 2010

Punishing Reckless Drivers

Tuesday I was able to amend the safe driving bill passed by the Senate to include a powerful new tool for prosecutors to punish those who endanger our lives by reckless driving. My amendment creates a new crime, with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Please click on “Read more” to read a press release about this amendment.

Tarr Acts to Punish Reckless Drivers
Amendment Passes to Increase Penalties

Boston- State Senate Assistant Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) has placed an amendment into the Safe Driving Bill approved on Tuesday by the Senate that would give prosecutors a powerful new tool to punish those who drive recklessly on the state’s roadways and cause a death.

“A driver who consciously disregards the safety of others deserves a much stronger penalty than one who causes a loss of life by acting negligently,” said Tarr. He added that “This amendment recognizes that higher degree of culpability and punishes it accordingly.”

Currently state law describes the crime of motor vehicular homicide, and contains two categories:

-one for those who drive negligently or recklessly and cause a death while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The penalty for this category is 2.5-15 years in prison and /or a $5,000 fine.

-a second for negligent operations resulting in death, carrying a punishment of 30 days to 2.5 years in prison and/or a $3,000 fine.

Tarr’s amendment recognizes the greater degree of danger, and criminal responsibility of, those who are not merely negligent, but who evidence a disregard for safety in such ways as excessive speeding that results in death. The new category of crime for reckless driving that causes a death would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a $3,000 fine.

“Often we read news accounts of tragic accidents and loss of life caused by extreme behavior, and are shocked at how minimal the penalties are for that behavior. Through the passage of this amendment, the Senate has taken action to ensure that the penalty fits the crime,” said Tarr.

Since the House and Senate have passed different versions of the safe driving bill, it will likely proceed to a conference committee charged with reconciling those differences.

Tarr thanked Senators Steven Baddour (D-Methuen), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation and Steven Panagiotakos (D-Lowell), Chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) for their assistance in securing the passage of the amendment.