What is Jake’s Law?
Currently, causing a serious injury or death when driving while distracted by texting or using a hand-held cell phone usually only results in a traffic ticket, which is what happened during the trial of the driver who struck our car. Jake’s Law will make crashes caused by cell phone distracted driving that results in a serious injury or death a misdemeanor with up to three years of jail time and up to a $5,000 fine.
Jake Owen was a five-year old boy from Baltimore City, who was killed when an SUV struck his family’s car from behind while stopped in traffic. The driver was on his cell phone and did not notice for approximately 500 yards (equivalent to the length of five football fields) that the traffic in front of him had stopped due to a previous accident. According to a data retrieval device in his car, the driver had not even applied his brakes when he hit Jake’s car at 62 MPH.
After the trial in the fall of 2013, the driver was fined merely $1,000 for killing a five-year old boy and seriously injuring two others. Under the current statute of criminally negligent manslaughter and reckless driving in Maryland, crashes caused by cell phone distraction are considered just an “accident.” Jake’s Law seeks to close this legal loop hole.
Status of Jake’s Law
Delegate Luke Clippinger and Senator Roger Manno introduced Jake’s Law, HB1212 and SB0348, beginning of February. Hearing and testimony will take place before the House Judiciary Committee on February 26 and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee February 28 in the Senate.
How to Help
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About the organization
Change for Jake Foundation, Inc. is a Maryland non-profit corporation (IRS tax-exempt status pending), whose mission is to prevent injuries and fatalities caused by cell phone distracted driving. The organization advocates for policies aimed at eliminating the practice and promotes awareness about the dangers of all cell phone distracted driving, including texting, reading emails/texts, dialing, utilizing apps and other behaviors that cause drivers to take their eyes off the road. For more information, please Email Us.