I am shocked and disgusted that this is the outcome of a tragic case. I understand the judge imposed the maximum penalty for the crime Carol Svinarich was charged with (though I don't get why she's not sitting in jail for 90 days), but I don't understand at all why she wasn't charged with involuntary manslaughter. She did something illegal--running a red light--and she killed a person. So why such a minor charge? Does someone know the reasoning behind this? I really hope the widow sues the driver in civil court.

Tags: bicyclist, killed

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There are problems with NM law in cases like this.  Bruce Wickensburg killed cyclist Dan Montoya and was sentenced (Careless Driving charge) to 90 days suspended license and $300.00 fine.  Miranda Pacheco was sentenced (Careless Driving charge) to 90 days in jail and the $300.00 fine.  And as you note, Carol Svinarich faces a similar penalty.  Involuntary manslaughter doesn't apply in these cases (long story). 


If you want to do something to change this situation, go to DukeCityWheelmen.org and see what we are working on, together with the New Mexico Motorcycle Rights Organization (motorcyclists face the same problems as bicyclists!!).

Jennifer Buntz

In short, no.  Involuntary manslaughter is a felony while the conditions you mention, as well as many others, are misdemeanors.  Several times in the 1990s, NM prosecutors tried to apply the involuntary manslaughter charge, but all convictions were eventually overturned on appeal. 

Colorado and Montana have statutes with stiffer penalties when another road user is killed or suffers great bodily harm due to careless driving.  Oregon and Washington have been working on such legislation.  Here, Duke City Wheelmen Foundation together with the New Mexico Motorcycle Rights Organization and Representative Miera will be working on such legislation when the 60 day legislative session begins in January.  DukeCityWheelmen.org has more information on this effort.

What a joke.  Maybe it's time to start riding armed and retaliating every time a driver threatens a cyclist?

Yeah, great reaction. Actually, my car was vandalized by a "cyclist" when as hikers, we didn't yield to him and actually defended ourselves from him taking the right-of-way, which he didn't have. What is it about wheels vs. something less so that makes people think they've got all the rights and the other person has zero? So, your threats of violence really don't shock me at all, it is just-us, not justice, as the great Richard Pryor said.

I think he was largely kidding. Your comments seem more than a little inappropriate on a thread about people on bicycles getting killed by cars.

What the heck does "largely kidding" mean in regards to threatening to shoot someone? And you think my comments are a "little inappropriate?" Carelessness, selfishness doesn't exclusively drive behind a steering wheel, pal. 

You took someone's pretty obviously facetious comment about arming cyclists to protect them from the cars that kill several folks on bikes a year and used it as an opportunity to equate cars and bikes and complain about one solitary cyclist who you think vandalized your car. The moral equivalence there is a little off, I think. Sorry about your car, but do you really think that can be put on a par with people getting killed by reckless drivers?

I'm curious, at what point did I say "shoot"?

If you're going to be all self-righteous you should at least be accurate.

What gets me is the woman still insisted that she didn't run the red light at her sentencing.  That right there justified sending her to jail, I would think.  But honestly I don't think sending someone to jail IS the correct penalty.  That serves no one, really.  In fact, it just costs society money.  I say she should lose her drivers license for life (seriously--if you kill someone with your car, by your own inattentiveness, you FAILED the driving test) and be required to speak at driving schools about how your inattentiveness resulted in loss of life.  Along with whatever restitution a judge should order.

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