By J. J. McQueen,
Special to the AFRO
In July of 2019, Thomas D. Zdon was involved in a motorcycle accident that resulted in the death of his wife, Sherry Zdon. They were hit head on by an oncoming vehicle near the Conowingo Dam. The crash caused the loss of Mr. Zdon’s left arm and left leg.
On the same day there were two other passengers riding another single motorcycle that were critically injured, and spent weeks in hospitals.
With little memory of the accident, Mr. Zdon and his family retained the services of a lawyer to gain access to documents needed for insurance purposes. Unsuccessful in finding useful information that would be of great help, Julie Zdon Sturek, sister of Mr. Zdon petitioned to have Sherry and Christopher’s Law to become legislation.
Originally filed in 2021 under HB0668, and reintroduced as HB0007 in 2022, the bill is designed for those that cause accidents of this nature to appear in court. This would only apply to individuals who are charged with reckless or negligent driving. The bill would restrict these individuals from prepaying court fines if the reckless or negligent driving that contributed to an accident that results in the death of another person.
Under the current law, a person is guilty of reckless driving if a motor vehicle is driven in (wanton- a cruel or violent action), or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property or in a manner that indicates a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property. A violation is a misdemeanor, subject to a maximum fine of $1,000. The Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) is also required to assess six points against the driver’s license upon conviction for this offense. The District Court prepayment penalty, including court costs, is $510 for this offense.
A person is guilty of negligent driving if the motor vehicle is driven in a careless or imprudent manner that endangers any property or the life or safety of any individual. This violation is a misdemeanor, subject to a maximum fine of $500. Upon conviction, MVA must assess one point against the driver’s license, or three points if the offense contributes to an accident. The District Court assesses a prepayment penalty of $240 for this offense or $280 if the offense contributes to an accident. If HB0007 is approved, the level of accountability for those who cause unjust harm to innocent drivers will receive more intense punishments.
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