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Southern Maryland Online

On Wednesday, October 1, 2014, several new motor vehicle laws will take effect, including “Jake’s Law” which strengthens penalties for distracted driving.

Anyone who texts or reads messages while operating a motor vehicle that causes an accident that kills or seriously injures another will face penalties of up to a year in jail and a fine of $5,000.

The law, “Use of Text Messaging Device or Handheld Telephone While Driving – Accidents Resulting in Death or Serious Injury – Penalties,” is known as Jake’s Law after 5-year-old Jake Owen, who was killed in a crash in 2011.

In addition to Jake’s Law, other motor vehicle laws passed in the last General Assembly session and taking effect October 1, 2014 include:

Senate Bill 378 Vehicle Laws – Electric Bicycle – Definition: defines an electric bicycle as a bicycle, rather than a moped or motorized mini-bike. Riders of electric bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as riders of bicycles.

House Bill 344 Charles County – Sunday Car Sales – Blue Law Exemption: permits Charles County car dealers to operate on Sundays.

House Bill 436 Vehicle Laws – Operation of Vehicle When Approaching a Tow Truck: expands the “move over law” to tow trucks.

Senate Bill 813 Motor Vehicle Administration – Drivers’ Licenses and Identification Cards – Organ Donor Designation: keeps the donor designation on a driver’s license or identification card in effective until it is requested to be removed.

Senate Bill 26 Motor Vehicles – Commercial Instructional Permit Holders – Administrative Penalties and Procedures: imposes the same sanctions on a commercial instructional permit holder who violates the law as it imposes on a full commercial driver’s license holder.

Senate Bill 87 Drunk Driving – Ignition Interlock System Program – Repeat Offenders: requires a repeat offender to serve a full year’s suspension or participate in the ignition interlock program for a full year and prohibits a repeat offender from operating a work vehicle that is not equipped with an interlock device.

Senate Bill 390 Criminal Law – Illegal Dumping and Litter Control Law – Driver’s License – Points: imposes driver’s license and vehicle registration sanctions on those who are convicted of littering or dumping refuse using a motor vehicle.

For a complete list of all the new laws taking effect in 2014, visit