COVID-19 lock down: street racing, negligent and reckless operation
Social distancing is the new normal and most people are working from home. With stores and office buildings being closed, this has lead to less cars being on the streets. What came to a surprise to officials were that car accidents have not decreased.
With less cars on the road, the expectation was that less people would get into accidents. People are now blaming reckless drivers out there. The combination of having less cars on the road with police being more reluctant to stopping people due to COVID-19 concerns, it has lead some drivers being dangerous.
For those irresponsible drivers, what can be the legal consequences of their actions?
Reckless or Negligent operation
If a person is speeding at "excessive" speeds they can be charged with reckless or negligent operation. There is no set speed under the statute, but that is largely dependent on a situation. Going 70 mph on the highway is not considered excessive verses going 70 mph on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.
A driver can be criminally charged if they operate their car in a way that the public may be in danger. A person doesn't need to be speeding for their driving to be considered reckless or negligent. A driver swerving in front of cars or driving on a sidewalk is being reckless regardless of their speed. If a person is convicted of reckless or negligent operation they could face a fine up to $200 or jail up to 2 years.
The streets having less cars and less enforcement may prompt irresponsible drivers to road race. If a person is caught road racing they can face a fine and up to 2 years in jail. A driver can be charged with road racing if they wager or bet against another driver to see who is faster. A driver can also be charged with road racing if they bet or wager to try to break a speeding record.
To make matters worse, if a person is engaged in racing and a death occurs, the driver can be charged with manslaughter. The decedent can be a pedestrian, passenger, or even the other racer. The driver doesn't need to intend to kill the decedent. Road racing is a dangerous activity and it is foreseeable that someone can be injured or killed.
Motor Vehicle Manslaughter
If a person is driving and kills someone with alcohol or drugs in their system they can be charged with motor vehicle manslaughter. They are two different statutes that a person can be charged under for motor vehicle manslaughter. A driver convicted of a felony has to go to jail for not less than two and half years and can face up to 15 years.
Don't drive recklessly
Finally, if these crimes are not enough of a deterrent from driving recklessly, the RMV can also suspend your license for being an immediate threat. Should the RMV suspend your license for being an immediate threat, you cannot get your license back until your case is over. With the COVID-19 crisis, cases are going to take a lot longer to resolve. The result, is that you can be without a license for a very long time.
Be smart and drive with care. If not, you can lose your license, your freedom, and your life.