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New law would increase penalty for distracted driving negligence

Lawmakers in Maryland have taken another step toward enacting new penalties for negligent drivers who refuse to hang up behind the wheel. New legislation known as "Jake's Law" would increase the penalties associated with distracted driving, hopefully decreasing the rates of fatal and injurious car accidents in the area. The mandate, which passed through the Maryland House of Delegates in mid-March, would require distracted drivers to also provide additional information about their cellphones to police.

Officials say that the law, named after a young victim who died in a distracted driving incident, would require drivers to surrender information including their cellphone numbers, service carriers and even e-mail addresses that are linked to the cellphone. Additional penalties would include up to a year in jail and $5,000 in fines. Drivers would have to be found guilty of contributing to a fatal or injurious crash through texting and driving or the general use of a cellphone.

Residents say that the changes are necessary because current law simply does not reflect the seriousness of a texting and driving accident. The young boy who inspired the bill died in a distracted driving accident in December 2011. The driver, age 23, was only required to pay $1,000 in fines. Parents of the victim told legislators that penalties should be increased to deter Maryland drivers from using their phones behind the wheel.

Maryland victims who have suffered serious injury or the loss of a loved one because of a distracted driver may be entitled to financial compensation. These victims may also benefit from consulting a personal injury attorney. Those professionals may provide additional information about liability and compensation options, helping plaintiffs make educated decisions about their civil cases.

Source: The Washington Post, "Md. House passes ‘Jake’s Law,’ targeting drivers on phones who cause serious crashes" Jenna Johnson, Mar. 14, 2014

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