Wade’s Law, Other Carozza Supported Legislation Signed into Law
Senator Mary Beth Carozza’s priority legislation to increase penalties for criminally-negligent driving, Wade’s Law, along with other initiatives that she supported, were signed into law today by Governor Larry Hogan, Senate President Bill Ferguson, and House Speaker Adrienne Jones.
“After five long years, my legislation to provide a more fair and just penalty for criminally-negligent driving causing a life-threatening injury will now become law,” Senator Carozza said, noting how she had introduced similar legislation in previous sessions. “It was a total team effort to pass Wade’s law, and I appreciate my colleagues for understanding the urgency to pass this legislation.”
Senate Bill 17— Criminal Law – Life–Threatening Injury Involving a Motor Vehicle or Vessel – Criminal Negligence (Wade’s Law) will establish the offense of a life-threatening injury by motor vehicle or vessel as criminal negligence. A violator is guilty of a misdemeanor and if convicted is subject to a maximum of one-year imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine. Wade’s Law will go into effect on October 1, 2021.
This legislation was prompted from a violent crash involving two Worcester County road workers, Scott Tatterson and Wade Pusey, who were struck by a criminally-negligent driver. The violent crash occurred in 2016 and left Mr. Tatterson dead and Mr. Pusey with several life-threatening and life-sustaining injuries. This case was brought to Senator Carozza’s attention by Wicomico County Deputy State’s Attorney Bill McDermott, who emphasized the fact that Senate Bill 17 is simply building on existing law to create a more just penalty for the crime of criminally-negligent driving causing a life-threatening injury during the January 2021 hearing.
Also testifying in support of Wade’s Law was Je’Ani Lyles, who also suffered both life-threatening and life-sustaining injuries as the result of a criminally-negligent driver on June 18, 2018. Je’Ani’s mother, Carla Ortiz, described not only the horror of the crash with Je’Ani suffering a severing of her T8 vertebrae, multiple surgeries, and paralysis from the chest down but pleaded for a more just penalty to hold those who are criminally-negligent responsible for their actions.
“My parents always taught me that if you believe in a just cause or action, then you keep working it, not for yourself, but for people like Wade Pusey and his family, and Je’Ani Lyles and her mother, Carla, and for all the unnamed victims and future victims. Thanks to all for making the case for Wade’s Law – a fair and just penalty.”
Senator Carozza is grateful for all the victims and their families who persevered testifying over the years, the State’s Attorneys Bill McDermott, Steve Kroll, and Dave Daggett, the local police chiefs and sheriffs, and Delegate Wayne Hartman for his leadership as House sponsor of Wade’s Law.
Carozza-Supported Initiatives Signed into Law
Other priority pieces of legislation supported by Senator Carozza were signed into law today. This includes Senate Bill 205, that will allow restaurants, bars, and taverns to sell and deliver certain alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption or delivery, with a food purchase, as specified by a county liquor board until 2023; Senate Bill 448, which provides local flexibility for student transportation services; House Bill 940, that will implement sports wagering and fantasy gaming competitions in Maryland; and Senate Bill 186 that will expand eligibility for an existing tax credit for companies that hire veterans.
State House to Reopen to the Public
After being closed to the public since March 2020, it was announced that the Maryland State House will be reopen on Friday, May 21.
“This has been a very difficult session with the COVID-19 protocols limiting public interaction and access as we debated and voted on so many bills impacting the lives of Marylanders,” Senator Carozza said. “I look forward to welcoming my constituents back to Annapolis and our historic State House, and encourage them to contact my office to set up a tour.”
All COVID-19 protocols, including screening questions and thermal scanning, will remain in place for all visitors entering the State House. Tours and groups of visitors may not exceed 25 individuals per group, not including the tour guide. Additionally, visitors to state owned and leased buildings will not be required to wear masks. Unvaccinated visitors are encouraged to continue to wear masks in state owned and leased buildings.