Articles, Analysis,
and Commentary

What Is The Criminal Offense of Manslaughter By Vehicle?

Maryland law punishes the unintentional killing of an individual by use of car, motorcycle or boat in specific ways:

If a death results from the

  • Driving
  • Operating, or controlling

a vehicle or vessel in a grossly negligent manner, the offender is

guilty of manslaughter by vehicle or vessel and subject to a 10 year prison sentence

or a fine not exceeding $ 5,000 or both. Gross negligence is not defined in the statutory provision.

If, on the other hand, a death results from the

  • Driving
  • Operating or controlling

a vehicle or vessel a criminally negligent manner, that offender is

guilty of manslaughter by vehicle or vessel and subject to a prison sentence of 3 years

or a fine not exceeding $ 5,000 or both. Obviously, due to the lesser punishment, an act of criminal negligence is considered a less culpable than an act of gross negligence.  A showing of more than just mere “garden variety” negligence  required to sustain a conviction under either of these sections. Maryland law provides that one is criminally negligent where that “ person should be aware, but fails to perceive, that the person's conduct creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such a result will occur; and their failure amounts to “a gross deviation from the standard of care that would be exercised by a reasonable person.” Source Md. CRIMINAL LAW Code Ann. Section 2-210.

For convictions under either section, there are subsequent offender penalties as well, that operate to enhance the maximum sentences allowable for repeat offenders. If alcohol is involved, a different offense, with a five year potential sentence is implicated. 

I invite all potential clients to participate in a no-cost analysis and strategy conference. Contact me today to arrange a time to meet. 410 591 2835, or simply complete the form at the bottom of the page.

410-657-5962
(!) COVID-19 Update from Eric T. Kirk, Attorney
See statement >