In August of 2020, the Maryland Department of Transportation reported that distracted driving in the state caused 56,690 crashes with 196 fatalities in 2019 alone. It is no wonder then why the state is determined to stop distracted driving within state borders.
This determination has translated into stricter penalties for at-fault drivers and serial offenders. Continue reading to learn more.
Maryland’s Stricter Distracted Driving Penalties
Distracted driving happens when a driver of a moving vehicle performs other tasks while they are behind the wheel. According to state laws, a driver must not succumb to any of the four distractions: visual, auditory, manual, or cognitive.
- Visual: Activities that make drivers look away from the road.
- Auditory: Activities where the driver cannot hear the audible driving cues around them.
- Manual: Activities that make the driver take their hands off the wheel.
- Cognitive: Activities that make drivers think about something else other than driving.
Although smartphone use falls under all four distraction categories, Maryland exempts situations where the driver tries to initiate or terminate calls. People who are trying to turn their phones on or off are exceptions to this rule as well. The last exemptions are drivers making emergency calls to the police department, fire department, hospital, emergency medical service provider, and 911.
Distracted Driving Law
Any driver in the state of Maryland who is found to be involved in distracted driving could face monetary fines depending on the type of distraction and their previous violations. Individuals with Maryland-issued licenses will also accrue traffic violation points as a form of penalty.
- First-time offenders: $83 fine
- Second-time offenders: $140 fine
- Third-time offenders: $160 fine
Drivers using their phones while at the wheel can face $70 in fines and a traffic violation point in their record if it’s their first time. However, a driver can face up to $110 in fines and three points in their license should they cause a collision while distracted by their phones.
In 2014, the state of Maryland had Jake’s Law approved in the US Senate to bestow harsher punishments to distracted drivers who cause collisions that result in severe or fatal injuries. Jake’s Law was drafted in memory and honor of five-year-old Jake Owen, who died because of a distracted driver.
Under Jake’s Law, any at-fault driver must pay $5,000 in fines. Aside from the hefty charges, drivers will spend a year in prison when found guilty.
Colliding with a Distracted Driver—What to Do
If you get involved in a distracted driver collision, it’s understandable that you will be frazzled. However, try to stay calm and follow these simple things.
- Turn off the engine.
- Check yourself for any bodily injuries.
- Call 911 immediately and report the situation.
- Exchange personal information with the other party. Remember to take note of their name, address, mobile number, vehicle information, and insurance information.
- Take pictures of the collision.
- Try to look for witnesses at the site and ask for their contact information.
These easy-to-remember steps can be helpful when filing insurance claims. It would be useful to you and your car accident attorney should you wish to take legal action.
The state of Maryland imposes harsh penalties on distracted drivers under the Distracted Driving Law and Jake’s Law. These harsher punishments for offenders only aim to protect drivers and pedestrians from car crash-related injuries and deaths.
However, if ever you find yourself involved in a collision as a result of another person’s distracted driving, stay calm and try to keep a clear head. In the event that you do want to pursue legal action, call reputable car accident lawyers near you.
Zukerberg & Halperin is a law firm providing respected car accident lawyers in DC, Virginia, and Maryland. We can help you get justice and the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation!