by Josh Averbach ’18
The week of March 15, Maryland’s House of Delegates passed legislation that would increase the maximum texting-and-driving fine to $500 (currently, the maximum fines are $75 for the first offense, $125 for the second, and $175 for the third). Similar legislation passed the House in 2016 and 2017 but could not garner enough votes in the State Senate. The Senate would be wise to pass it this time.
Obviously, staring at a phone instead of the road is dangerous; texting-and-driving is the leading cause of death among teenagers, according to DMV.org. Some argue that a $500 fine–one which is financially-devastating for some–is too steep. But, according to The Washington Post, the bill’s supporters note that not every offender will receive the fine, and judges could base decisions based on the driver’s finances. Plus, the severity of the crime and the offender’s history could determine the severity of the fine. Repeat-offenders would be more likely to get the top fine than first-timers. Glancing at one’s phone during an interminable wait at 108 and Old Baltimore would likely not incur a top fine, but furiously texting while cruising down I-270 might.
This bill won’t end texting-and-driving. But it will dissuade a few people from doing so, and perhaps that will save a few lives.