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A $250 fine for killing a person

The reality of traffic laws in Virginia

By Martyna DearingPublished 11 months ago Updated 11 months ago 6 min read
Top Story - August 2023
A $250 fine for killing a person
Photo by Michael Jin on Unsplash

On a Tuesday afternoon, October 25th, 2022 my husband, Andrew Dearing was on his way home from work. He was driving a motorcycle. We got it about two months earlier because we couldn’t afford a reliable car. We were convinced that a newer motorcycle in good condition was safer than an old car that would require a lot of maintenance. At that time, we were 26 and 27, and we dreamt of owning a home with a fenced-in backyard for our dogs. So money was pretty tight.

We had a stupid fight that morning, about things that didn’t matter. Throughout the day, though, we were fine. I was making spicy Mac and Cheese, cleaned up the whole apartment, just walked the dogs, and waited. I called him about an hour earlier and he said he was about to come home. But there I was, sitting and waiting, and he wasn’t showing up. I was annoyed. Once again, his job got in the way of my plans. I texted him:

“Just as a reminder, they don’t pay you for staying overtime, while your family is waiting for you at home”.

No response.

I picked up a package I got in the mail and tried on a top that was in it. I took a selfie, I posted it on Instagram. Suddenly Andrew’s mom called. I picked up mid-laugh. She wasn’t laughing. She calmly told me that Andrew was in a car crash and I had to get to the hospital right away.

I wish I could say that the next few hours were the worst few hours of my life, but that’s not true. Maybe it doesn’t make sense, but losing him in that moment was nothing compared to living every day knowing he's not coming back. To this day, I'm still wondering how I'll react when he does...

According to the Fairfax County Police Department News:

“Detectives determined Mazher Rajput, 79, of Fairfax was driving in the northbound turn lane on West Ox Road waiting to turn left onto Ox Hill Road. Rajput did not yield to the operator of a 2018 Yamaha MT07 motorcycle traveling southbound on West Ox Road resulting in the crash".

In simpler words, Andrew was driving straight, the guy was taking a left turn. He “didn’t notice” Andrew and drove straight into him. That didn’t stop all the news outlets from writing articles the next day about a motorcyclist driving into a Jeep. That’s not what happened- but the internet doesn’t care. Those articles show up every time you google Andrew's name.

Andrew was a safe and experienced driver. He wasn't one of those crazy speeding motorcyclists you see passing by and cringe for how loud they are. He graduated from driving school as the best one out of his class. He got a stupid hat as a reward. He kept on telling me how careful he had to be because he knew, he had a family waiting at home.

Mazher Rajput has been accused of “failing to yield”. Not a murder, not an involuntary manslaughter. Just “failing to yield”. He only didn’t stop when he had to, right? Someone died… someone (me) lost the love of their life. People lost a son, a brother, and a friend… because this man simply “failed to yield”.

At this moment, according to our attorney, Mazher Rajput faces a fine of $250. However, he claims not to be guilty. He admits he made the turn and drove into Andrew, but at the same time, he refuses to admit he’s guilty of that one charge… FAILED TO YIELD.

He’s not being charged with anything else, nor is he facing jail time. He gets to keep his driving license... He killed a 27-year-old, at the age of 79, because he didn’t notice a huge motorcycle right in front of him. But according to the state of Virginia, he’s capable of driving. Quoting the prosecutor, Jennifer Sands, “he didn't even realize WHAT he hit”. That’s what she said. Not WHO, not Andrew… what. Still, according to Mazher Rajput himself, he is not guilty.

It wasn’t Mr. Rajput’s first traffic offense, though. In 2004 he “failed to obey a traffic signal”. In 2014 he again “failed to obey a highway sign”. In 2016 Mazher Rajput “failed to stop/ yield entering highway”. In 2017 he was charged with speeding.

There are no maximum age restrictions for driving in Virginia. You can be 79, kill a person because you “didn’t notice” them, have multiple traffic violations, and still keep your driving license.

What does it mean to us, Andrew’s family? Endless agony of going to court and talking about one of the worst days of our lives. Facing the man who took everything away from us and doesn’t even have the decency to admit to his guilt or say sorry. Our lawyer keeps on reminding us “It’s in his best interest not to admit guilty”, but damn it… he gets to pay a $250 fine and go on with his life, while I don’t get to see the love of my life ever again. Are we really asking for that much?

If that wasn’t enough, Mazher Rajput is insured with State Farm, which in our lawyer’s opinion is the worst insurance company to deal with. For the first 5 months after the accident they were simply ghosting us. Then they hired an “external investigator” to confirm who was at fault. It doesn't matter that the police report clearly states Mazher Rajput was the one to blame. State Farm will do anything in its power not to pay us the insurance money, which means they’d love to prove it was Andrew’s fault. Who cares how that makes us feel?

The money… honestly? Fuck the money. I mean, it would be nice to be able to pay my bills, pay off the mortgage, or even be depressed and have panic attacks in Bali instead of Virginia. But in the end, I lost the only person I truly loved. Andrew lost literally everything. We lost our future, our hopes, and our dreams. We lost the kids we will never have.

And that man can’t even say he’s sorry.

My biggest issue is not with him though. He’s just one of many people who seem not to have any moral compass. I’m used to people being horrible to each other. However, where is the law in all of this?

Do we really live in a world where killing a person costs $250? Yes, it was probably an accident. But this man has had many traffic violations before. He claims not to notice Andrew when there was no obstruction of view. Does that sound like a person who is capable of driving?

And what about his age? Are we really okay with putting our lives in the hands of 80-year-old drivers? Why there are no maximum age restrictions for driving? Mazher Rajput did not only drive straight into a motorcycle with my husband on it but also proceeded to drive into another car because he didn’t even manage to press his brakes. I’m pretty sure my reaction time would be better after a bottle of wine… or two.

Just within the last couple of months I've seen multiple car accidents nearby my house, caused by the elderly. Mostly them driving into trees, bushes, and banisters.

According to the drivinguniveristy.com:“Failure to yield the right-of-way is the number one cause of crashes for older drivers.”

This 79-year-old man made a mistake that not only killed my husband but also ruined the lives of many people who loved Andrew.

However, the real mistake is our country not setting maximum age restrictions for drivers. The worst mistake is the state of Virginia allowing a person who killed another human being, to keep their license. To me it’s quite simple, if you killed a person while driving, you should not be able to do so anymore.

“The NHTSA reports that motor vehicle fatalities involving elderly drivers increased 32 percent from 2010 to 2019. Age-related research has shown that senior drivers face an increased risk of being involved in a multi-vehicle crash, particularly at intersections.”

Let me ask you… are YOU okay with Mazher Rajput driving around Virginia knowing his driving record? Do YOU feel safe on the roads knowing people like him get to keep their driving licenses? Would you be okay if Mazher Rajput simply "didn't notice" your husband or child?

If the answer is no, why aren’t we speaking up to make a change? Why are we putting our lives at risk?

If some elderly are too stubborn to admit they can’t drive anymore, there should be laws preventing them from it. We need to hold the elderly accountable for their "mistakes", ideally stop them from happening, and protect those who actually do have a future ahead of them.

Please share this article to raise awareness of the dangers of the elderly behind the wheel and the state laws that allow drivers who killed people to continue driving.

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About the Creator

Martyna Dearing

Martyna Dearing joined vocal right after COVID started in April 2020. Since then she got a few Top Stories, republished her book "Green Card Marriage", and is about to release another one titled "Loved, Death, and In Between".

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Comments (27)

  • Healty Life8 months ago

    love your work, I am trying to improve my work as welll, I would really be thankfull if you could read mine give me some feedback on how can i improve my writing. https://vocal.media/criminal/the-abyss-within-8l610ahg

  • S. C. Almanzar11 months ago

    Martyna, I am so sorry. I am always sickened when I hear about how many driving infractions someone had before they eventually seriously hurt someone. In my area, a huge issue is drunk driving. DUIs are extremely common, and no one gets their license taken away from them. A case that will always stick with me is one of a man who had over a dozen DUIs to his name and many other traffic tickets, but could still legally drive. Well, he eventually killed a family on the freeway. It's heartbreaking and frustrating.

  • T Rizer11 months ago

    I'm so sorry for your loss! Obviously this person was habitually making dangerous decision while driving for quite some time. As insane as it is, In Canada, you can live in a long term care home...and bring your car with you, to drive, alone, whenever you want. In essence...."We don't trust you to run the house alone, but you can run a vehicle alone...." A catastrophe waiting to happen.

  • Jenny Huynh11 months ago

    Wow so powerful and my condolences to you and your loved ones and anyone else in the world who has has similar cases. It’s not fair that’s for sure…the law should change …

  • True Crime Writer11 months ago

    Beautifully written. I'm so sorry for your tragic loss and hope you somehow find peace. I will never understand how 'laws' work, certainly not fairly for the right people.

  • Remena Rajasegaram11 months ago

    So beautifully written ❤️ I definitely would not feel safe with someone like that on the road. I lost my husband 2 months ago in the Dominican Republic to a negligent driver. I’m in Canada and it’s hard to even know what’s going on in the case, he was arrested but no news after that. I can relate to this so much. We live in such a confusing and cruel world sometimes, but still looking for the beauty in it. I hope you are too ❤️

  • JBaz11 months ago

    I share your pain, My grandfather (a pedestrian) was struck and killed by a drunk driver, he received a $300.00 fine and lost his license for 3 months, but because he said he needed the vehicle for work he received permission to drive it during his working hours. Great article and I am so sorry for what was taken from you, more than a husband ,you lost a future with the person you loved. In some small way I hope writing this helps with the healing

  • J. S. Wade11 months ago

    Martyna, my heart breaks for you in your loss, pain, anger, and frustration. on 09/27/2018 my son, Hampton, was killed by a failure to yield in SC. The penalty? A $230 ticket and four points. I had to fight to make the charge stick. You are not alone in this “club” we never asked to join. I am very active in changing the laws of SC and the main channel is through ABATE. The senators and Lobbiest i am working with also are very connected to a group of Virginia advocates for change to these travesties. My email is [email protected] if you need an ear from one who understands or how to contact these advocates in Virginia. Thank you, for sharing your story. I know the tears of loss and anger that were shed writing this. Scott Wade

  • A. Lenae11 months ago

    I'm so very sorry for what you have had to go through, for the future and person you had to say goodbye to. I have learned in my own life about a certain kind of shocked and angry grief, that it truly is loudest in the quiet moments that follow and in the questioning of the world and its definition of justice. I hope you continue to write and embrace all that nourishes you and honors what you feel and who you love. Keeping you in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  • C. H. Richard11 months ago

    I am so sorry for your loss. It is unbelievable that the other driver is not facing more charges and definitely should not have his license back. Again I am so sorry

  • Dana Stewart11 months ago

    Your pain is senseless, this tragedy could have been avoided. I am so sorry that it was not. You've paid tribute to your husband with this piece, I hope that you do feel peaceful. I wish that there was some solace I could offer, but I can't find any words that could undo the hurt. Keep going.

  • Jason Ray Morton 11 months ago

    I agree that there needs to be a way to stop people from hurting others when they hit a certain age. I can't say the right words about this story. All I know is when I get to the age my driving becomes dangerous or I can't stay focused enough not to kill someone I hope I am with it enough to surrender my license and utilize public transport, Ubers, cabs, or whatever.

  • Novel Allen11 months ago

    There are no words that will comfort you. Strange that mr whats his name always survive his accidents. His day is coming. Karma works, just not in our time frame. Soon he will pay his dues. Blessings and comfort in your heartache and pain. That too shall pass and become less hurtful.

  • Leslie Writes11 months ago

    This is horrific! I am so sorry about what happened to your husband. I agree wholeheartedly that these drivers should have their licenses taken. I live in the area and I have driven on West Ox. If this gets on the ballot, I will vote for it! I’ll contact my rep!

  • Kendall Defoe 11 months ago

    This is beyond aggravating. You need to keep fighting this one. You have us in your corner!

  • Jazzy 11 months ago

    This is heartbreaking. I am so sorry. But you have made valid points on what needs to happen here, and there should be restrictions especially if someone can't manage to see what's in front of them. I will be canceling my state farm insurance at this time.

  • Suze Kay11 months ago

    Martyna, I am so sorry for your loss. This was a beautifully well-reasoned picture of your frustration and loss. If no one has recommended it to you, when you’re ready, there’s a book by Joan Didion called “the year of magical thinking.” It’s about the year of her life after the death of her husband, in which, like you, she was unable to rid herself of the belief that he would walk back in through their door. It’s a hard read, even for someone who hasn’t lost their partner, but I know many people who found it helpful in their processing of loss. I wish you luck in court, peace of mind, and plenty of good surprises in the years to come.

  • Cathy holmes11 months ago

    I am so sorry for your loss and I agree with your article.

  • Alexandria Stanwyck11 months ago

    I am so sorry for your loss. I know it doesn't bring your husband back or provide justice, but I am sorry. I have felt that more should be done when it comes to older drivers. I have known great drivers who are older, but even if their minds are still sharp, you have to consider the ailments older people experience. Those things could screw with a person's ability to drive as much as faulty mental facilities. Truly these things should all be held in account, and not just older drivers: age, mobility, their ability to follow the law, their past driving record, and mental facilities. Keeping those things in mind would eliminate a lot of accidents.

  • Jay Kantor11 months ago

    Dear Mrs. Dearing - I so feel-you for writing this very difficult piece - with every word piercing your heart as you've written it. I've written - Victims Too - out of respect for others among us that couldn't say our GoodByes. I see so many of our little Village Community stand by you; that's so lovely. * As I scroll through your gorgeous presentations I've subscribed to you with pleasure. Jay Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Author Community -

  • L.C. Schäfer11 months ago

    I'm so sorry for what you've been through. I agree with you completely.

  • Ariel Joseph11 months ago

    I'm so sorry for your loss and what you're going through. I totally agree with your points raised, this happens to too many families, driving records should be taken into account and licenses should be revoked more often.

  • KJ Aartila11 months ago

    A truly disturbing story. Unbelievable! I am so, so sorry that you are going through this. 💕

  • April Denise Stuart11 months ago

    You and your family have my condolences.

  • Kristen Ulrich11 months ago

    I'm very sorry about your loss. It is very hard losing someone, I know. My condolences to you and your family. Best wishes.

Martyna DearingWritten by Martyna Dearing

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