Drivers who cause fatal car accidents deserve serious criminal punishment. Criminal charges help keep dangerous drivers off of Maryland roads while providing some perception of justice to the victims' relatives. This is not always the case, however, as many drivers who display negligence receive comparatively light sentences for their wrongdoing. That is exactly what happened to one Maryland man, who will only be required to spend 90 days in jail after he fell asleep at the wheel, striking another vehicle and killing the driver of that car. The victim's wife and daughter also suffered serious injury in the auto accident.
Authorities report the victim in the case, a 39-year-old military member, died on June 30 when his car was struck by the negligent driver. That man was charged with criminally negligent manslaughter by a motor vehicle, a relatively minor offense. Officials say they were limited in pursuing criminal action against the man, as there was no evidence of speeding, alcohol or drug use. The defendant is being required to take some measure of responsibility for his actions, however, since prosecutors showed that he had committed a crime by falling asleep while driving.
Still, the criminal justice system may come through in this specific instance; the driver had been convicted in 2000 of armed robbery, and he served seven years of a 20-year sentence. With 13 years of his sentence suspended, the man could be headed back for a long prison stint if evaluators determine that he violated the terms of his parole. The sentence associated with this crime, though, is even allowing the man to serve his time on the weekends instead of consecutively.
Victims who have been injured in an accident caused by someone else deserve criminal retribution against those offenders. In many cases, though, criminal charges just are not adequate to provide a satisfactory measure of justice. For those situations, civil court rulings can allow victims to not only recover the financial compensation they deserve for their car accident injuries but also inflict punitive damages that are designed to punish the negligent driver.
www.thebaynet.com, "Driver in fatal crash sentenced to 90 days in jail" Dick Myers, Dec. 09, 2013