Posted by Dorian Grilley on April 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm
The bill that would increase Careless and Reckless Driving penalties is still alive in the Minnesota Senate. It will be heard for a second time in the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety Tuesday April 12, 2011 at 1:00 in Room 15 of the State Capitol.
Running a stop sign and killing a bicyclist, or anyone else, should be more than a slap on the wrist! Right now, the Careless and Reckless Driving laws carry a penalty of a misdemeanor even if someone is severely injured or killed. BikeMN thinks this is grossly under penalized compared with other serious driving offenses. A misdemeanor carries with it a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Currently, there is no penalty between a Careless Driving misdemeanor and Criminal Vehicular Homicide which is a felony and requires that you prove intent. House File 68 and Senate File 201 (which also includes reckless driving) would increase the penalty for causing a death while committing a careless or reckless driving offense to a gross misdemeanor. That would increase the penalty to a maximum $3,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
BikeMN supports these bills and would like to see causing great bodily harm (e.g., broken bones) and substantial bodily harm (e.g., permanent impairment) also become a gross misdemeanor. Unfortunately, there is significant opposition to these bills. It seems that the trucking organizations and others oppose it and the potential of locking up a couple more people for a few more months is too expensive. So, if we want to see this become law we’ll have to do some serious grass roots organizing statewide and partnering with other organizations, like motorcyclists, that care. Stay tuned. We won’t let this fall by the wayside but we’ll need your help. Please watch the BikeMN facebook page for updates.
Guest writer Dorian Grilley is the Executive Director of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. He will be testifying in an upcoming trial as the victim of a careless driver, having sustained serious bodily injury as a result of an accident in 2010.