New Maryland Cell Phone While Driving Law -
Effective October 1, 2010
1. What is Marylandís Cell Phone Law that takes effect
on October 1, 2010?
Maryland Senate Bill 321 and House Bill 934 were signed
into law by Governor O'Malley. The new law will prohibit all Maryland drivers
from using a cell phone without a hands free device while operating a motor
vehicle in motion on a street or highway. In addition, the new law would
prohibit a school bus driver or a holder of a learnerís permit, or provisional
license who is 18 years of age or older, from driving a motor vehicle while
using a handheld telephone. A driver under 18 already is prohibited from using
any cell phone.
2. What exceptions are allowed?
Phone calls placed to 9-1-1, ambulance, hospital, fire,
or law enforcement agencies are allowed, as are calls made by emergency and law
enforcement personnel. A driver is allowed to turn a handheld phone on or off
and to initiate or terminate a call.
3. Is the law a primary offense?
The new law is a secondary offense, meaning that a driver
must first be detained for another offense, such as speeding or negligent
driving, before he or she can be ticketed for a cell phone offense. However, be
advised that ďnegligent drivingĒ is a primary offense in Maryland and can be
used as a precursor to citing violators of the new cell phone law.
4. What is the fine for the offense?
The fine for a first offense would be $40 and subsequent
offenses would be $100. Points will not be assessed to the first-time
violatorís driving record, except, three points are assessed if the violation
contributed to a crash. One point is assessed for a second or subsequent
5. Is this the same law as the texting law?
No, Maryland also bans texting while driving. This law
prohibits an individual from writing or sending a text message while operating a
motor vehicle that is in motion or in the travel portion of the highway. If
convicted of violating this law a person may be assessed a fine not exceeding
$500. This law does not apply to texting 9-1-1 or using a global positioning
6. Why is this law needed?
Studies indicate that cell phone conversations distract a
driver and delays reaction time, which can cause and increase the severity of a
vehicular crash. The National Safety Council has estimated that cell phone use
is responsible for 1.6 million crashes a year, nationally -- about 28 percent of
all crashes. Maryland now joins 7 other states (Calif., Conn., Del., N.J.,
N.Y., Ore. and Wash.), D.C. and the Virgin Islands in banning handheld cell
phone use while driving. For more information, please visit
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September 28, 2010