Maryland Senate passes stricter measure to ban texting while driving

The Maryland Senate on Thursday unanimously passed its version of a law that would increase the penalties for motorists who cause serious accidents because they were texting while driving.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Roger P. Manno (D-Montgomery County), would impose a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to $5,000 on a driver whose texting caused an accident resulting in serious injury or death.

Similar legislation passed the House by a vote of 111 to 25 last Friday.

The Senate measure – dubbed Jake’s Law – passed after Sen. Joseph M. Getty (R-Carroll) amended the bill to clarify that the penalty enhancement would apply only to texts produced manually. It would not apply to hands-free messaging systems that convert speech to text, he said.

A provision that required the driver to allow police to inspect the device and require the motorist to surrender certain information about it also was removed from the final bill in both chambers.

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