From Staff Reports
CUMBERLAND — Police officers in Maryland will be able to stop drivers who use hand-held cell phones when a new law enacted by the General Assembly takes effect Oct. 1, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
The transportation organization supported bills introduced in both legislative houses that make talking on a cell phone while driving a primary offense, thus allowing law enforcement to stop a driver based solely on that violation.
Fines for first-time violators will increase from $40 to $75. No points will be assessed to a driver’s license unless the offense contributes to a crash, according to AAA.
“We are pleased that the General Assembly recognized the importance of strengthening the hand-held cell phone ban, as it will now serve as a real deterrent to motorists and enable police to better enforce the existing law,” said Ragina Averella, manager of public and government affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “This measure will help us stem the epidemic of distracted drivers.” commented Averella.
AAA also announced passage of a Senate bill that will require all passengers in the rear seat of a vehicle to wear a seat belt effective Oct. 1. Children under the age of 8 are already required to ride in a child safety seat, unless they are 4 foot, 9 inches or taller. The law, which carries a $50 fine, is enforceable as a secondary offense only, which means a police officer must pull over a driver for another offense before a citation can be issued.