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Jake's Law Languishes In Maryland General Assembly

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Susan Yum, mother of Jake Owen, speaks about Jake's Law in front of the Maryland Statehouse today.
(Matt Bush/WAMU)
Susan Yum, mother of Jake Owen, speaks about Jake's Law in front of the Maryland Statehouse today.

A bill to increase penalties for handheld use of a cell phone while driving in Maryland is languishing in the General Assembly days before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

Both the House and Senate have passed their own versions of the bill, called "Jake's Law," and they have some big differences. The Senate version only increases the penalties for crashes that cause serious injuries or death when the driver is texting, while the House OKed a measure which covers all cellphone use, like talking, Internet surfing, or updating social media. Supporters want the House version to move forward in the Senate.

Susan Yum is the mother of Jake Owen, who was killed in a crash a little more than two years and is the bill's namesake.

"In our case, the texting wasn't even a factor. The driver was talking on his cellphone and that was what so distracting to him," Yum says. "That for 500 yards he did not notice that traffic had stopped in front of him."

The bill would call for up to three years of jail time and up to a $5,000 fine for anyone convicted of handheld use of a cell phone in a crash causing serious injury or death.

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