“It brought it all up, which is bitter,” said Sandy Smith, grandmother of Bryer Hendricks. “But, it’s still good getting this bill signed. We needed something.”
Tuesday was bittersweet for the family of five-year-old Bryer Hendricks, who passed away after a car crash involving an out-of-state, uninsured driver with a suspended license.
“The lower court said, as a result, they need to spend a year in jail because that’s the penalty for driving without insurance in Maryland,” said Delegate Neil Parrott, Washington County (R). “But unfortunately, in an appeal to a higher-level court, Judge Beachley’s decision says that it actually doesn’t apply.”
This is because the driver that collided into Bryer Hendricks’ car is from West Virginia.
“It was an injustice, but hopefully this bill will save other people,” said Dale Smith, grandfather of Bryer Hendricks.
The bill will penalize out-of-state drivers traveling through Maryland without insurance.
Offenders will face a fine up to $1,000 and/or a year in jail for the first offense, which is the same penalty uninsured Maryland drivers face.
Del. Parrot first learned about the loophole in 2016, but said when he brought the bill to the legislative session midway through, it was too late to pass.
This year provided the time to answer questions from the House and Senate about how the bill would be enforced.
“The question is can we force someone from out of the state that may not even require insurance?” said Del. Parrott.
Maryland’s Attorney General confirmed this bill is legal, putting the House and Senate’s concerns to rest; thus, Bryer’s Law passed unanimously.
“Having this happen is Bryer’s way,” said Rhonda Miller, cousin of Bryer Hendricks. “She would have found a way to have something good to have come from it.”
The bill will take effect on Oct. 1.