Can We Prevent Accidents with Jake’s Law in Maryland?

By Peter DePaolis

Car Accident Lawyers Support Greater Penalties for Texting While Driving

Distracted driving has become a national epidemic, causing fatal and serious car accidents across the country. In Maryland, the problem has led lawmakers to consider harsher penalties for texting while driving. As car accident attorneys who see the needless destruction of people’s lives after texting while driving accidents, we support Jake’s Law in Maryland.

What is Jake’s Law in Maryland?

Last year, Jake’s Law was passed, in remembrance of a Baltimore boy who was killed by a distracted driver. Jake was tragically killed in 2011 while sitting in the backseat playing a video game, when a distracted driver behind the wheel of an SUV collided with his mother’s car.

The 23-year-old motorist in the SUV was driving 62 miles per hour, and because he was distracted by text messaging, did not see traffic had stopped only 500 meters ahead. There was no time to hit the brakes and he collided with the vehicle, killing five-year-old Jake. At the time of the fatal accident, the consequences called for a misdemeanor and fine of $1,000. Feeling the crime did not fit the punishment, Jake’s family appealed to Maryland lawmakers to enact harsher penalties for distracted drivers.

From 2008 to 2012, 30,000 Maryland motorists were injured in distracted driving accidents annually. An additional 250 motorists per year were killed. Maryland lawmakers only passed Jake’s Law last year, and it will take time to assess its effectiveness in preventing distracted driving accidents.

Unfortunately, the law is not yet making an impact on drivers. A recent AAA study of Maryland motorists found 33 percent are using their phones while driving, 6 percent above the national average. Motorists using apps, social media or texting behind the wheel are putting their social lives above the safety of other people.

How Does Jake’s Law Affect Distracted Drivers?

All motorists have a duty to drive safely, and texting behind the wheel can significantly increase the chances of being involved in an accident. Without tough laws to deter would-be distracted drivers, more accidents like the one that took the life of Jake would remain possible.

With Jake’s Law passed, motorists involved in accidents who are texting and driving could face up to one year in jail, a $5,000 fine and 12 points on their license. Instead of a misdemeanor, texting and driving motorists could receive felonies. Motorists who are texting and driving, much like impaired drivers, should face harsh penalties for causing such needless and destructive accidents.

Civil lawsuits can and should accompany criminal prosecution for motorists who cause accidents while texting and driving. Depending on the circumstances, accident survivors and family members can consider a personal injury and/or wrongful death lawsuit by contacting an experienced attorney for free legal advice.

Need a Car Accident Attorney in Maryland After an Auto Wreck?

The car accident attorneys at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P serve the people of Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. If you have been involved in an auto accident and are unsure how to proceed, we offer free legal consultations with no obligation. Call us directly at (301) 345-5700 or simply fill out our online contact form to have someone get back to you shortly.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.