County Approves Fine Schedule For Approved 911 Law

SNOW HILL – County officials approved fines to be associated with the implementation of Kari’s Law.

The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a fine schedule associated with the enforcement of Kari’s Law, which requires multi-line telephone systems to allow for direct dialing 9-1-1.

“In the past we passed the bill for Kari’s Law,” said Worcester County Emergency Services Director Billy Birch. “This is just putting the fine schedule to it.”

Kari’s Law ensures that anyone can reach a 9-1-1 call center when dialing 9-1-1 from a multi-line telephone system. The law is named in honor of Kari Hunt, who was killed in a motel room by her estranged husband, according to Though her daughter tried to call 9-1-1 four times, the calls never went through because the motel phone system required a user to dial “9” before any outside call.

Following the commissioners’ approval of a legislative bill implementing the requirement that multi-line telephone systems allow for direct dialing of 9-1-1 last month, Birch this week presented a fine schedule. The schedule calls for a $100 fine for the first violation and a $250 fine for each additional violation.

Commissioner Chip Bertino asked if current phone systems would have to be retrofitted.

Birch said they would not, but added that he was working with the fire marshal regarding the inspection process.

Bertino asked what would happen if an existing business was inspected by the fire marshal and was determined not to have the correct phone system.

“We’d try to do education first,” Birch said. “We haven’t had any pop up to my knowledge so far.”

Bertino said he was concerned that existing businesses might be forced to upgrade their phone systems.

“That could be pretty costly to a small business person,” he said.

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic pointed out that most businesses had likely already had their fire inspections done this year.

“It is state law,” he said of Kari’s Law. “It benefits the public that they come into compliance.”

The commissioners voted 6-1, with Bertino opposed, to approve the fine schedule.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.