Jake’s Law Takes Effect in Maryland

Towson personal injury attorney Douglas T. Sachse discusses the intent of Jake’s Law, recently enacted by the Maryland legislature in an effort to curb cell phone use while driving.

In 2011, a driver on the Baltimore beltway slammed into the rear of another vehicle at more than 60 miles per hour, killing 5-year-old Jake Owen.  Accident investigation revealed that the driver had been using his cell phone at the time and was sufficiently distracted that he did not notice stopped traffic some 500 yards ahead.  The offending driver was fined $1,000.

Maryland House Bill 1212, better known as Jake’s Law, went into effect on October 1st.  Jake’s Law addresses the issue of distracted driving by providing for penalties of up to one year in prison and a fine of $5,000 for offenders.

Supporters of the legislation maintain that cell phone use by a driver contributes to three different types of distracted driving: visual distraction, in which the driver’s eyes are not on the road; manual distraction, with the driver’s hands not on the wheel; and cognitive distraction, where the driver’s attention is on something other than the safe operation of the vehicle.  They pointed as well to studies showing that distracted driving may cause even slower reaction times than impaired driving.

Disturbingly, in a 2011-2012 study some 50 percent of drivers age 18-29 reported reading or sending texts while driving at highway speeds.  Subsequent research in 2013 showed a full 83 percent of adults admitting to some kind of cell phone use behind the wheel.

Although Jake’s Law carries much heavier penalties than previous legislation, it was weakened somewhat after the American Civil Liberties Union protested language that would have required suspects to provide police with personal information including their cell phone number and the name of their carrier.  That language was removed from the bill, leading some to question how the new law will be enforced.

Regardless of penalties or enforcement, cell phone use or any type of distracted driving is a danger to the driver, passengers and others on the road. If you have questions about Jake’s Law, or if you’ve been a victim of distracted driving, contact the Law Offices of Douglas T. Sachse.

Recent News

| Individuals who injure themselves in a slip-and-fall incident on a storeowner’s property may seek recourse against the store under certain Read More

| Last year, Maryland legislators drafted a law making “blocking the box”—the act of waiting in the middle of an intersection Read More

| DUI checkpoints are legal in the state of Maryland, however, there are several misconceptions and misunderstandings people have about these Read More

Quick Contact
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.