Bill Could Mean Jail Time For Crashes Caused By Distracted Driving

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — A measure in Maryland would make it a misdemeanor to cause accidents resulting in serious injury or death, if the driver at fault was talking or texting on a cellphone.

The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the proposed bill Wednesday.

It would create a penalty of up to three years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Under current law, supporters of the bill say crashes caused by cellphone distracted driving typically result only in a traffic violation.

The measure is being named Jake’s Law after 5-year-old Jake Owen, of Baltimore, who was killed in a crash in 2011. The driver who caused that accident was given two traffic tickets and issued a $1,000 fine.

Susan Yum, Jake’s mother, testified in support of the law and said that people need to understand that distracted driving is dangerous, and “if you do it, there will be consequences.”

“Cellphone distracted driving has become the new drunk driving,” Yum said Wednesday in Annapolis. “What we want the legislature to do is to put laws in place that actually serve as a strong deterrent.”

A measure in the House of Delegates is sponsored by Del. Luke Clippinger, D-Baltimore. A Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Roger Manno, D-Montgomery, will be heard Friday.

WNEW Annapolis Bureau Chief Karen Adams contributed to this story. Follow Karen on Twitter.

(TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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