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House OKs jail time for drivers who kill while on cell phones

The House of Delegates approved a bill Friday that would allow a judge to give up to a year's sentence to a driver who negligently kills or seriously injures someone while texting or speaking on a hand-held cellphone.

The 111-25 vote on the legislation known as Jake's Law sends the measure to the Senate.

The bill was named after 5-year-old Jake Owen, who was killed in a crash in 2011 caused by a driver police found to have been using a cell phone when he struck Jake's family's car.

The driver was acquitted of reckless driving and vehicular manslaughter and convicted of traffic charges that led to a $1,000 fine. Proponents said the bill will fill a gap in the law between traffic counts and the manslaughter charge, which carries a maximum term of 10 years.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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