Distracted Driving Laws in Maryland

August 7, 2012

Maryland’s Distracted Driving Laws and Consequences

Texting while driving may be the most prevalent way drivers are distracted from the road, but it is not the only way. Distracted driving also includes: talking on a cell phone, eating, changing songs or radio stations, applying makeup, checking email, reading, or anything that forces the driver to shift her attention back and forth between it and the road.

There are three main types of distracted driving:

  • Visual: or anything that takes the driver’s eyes off the road;
  • Manual: or anything that forces a driver’s hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive: or anything that takes a driver’s mind off of driving.

Texting while driving involves all three kinds of distraction, which is why Maryland enacted a law banning it. In October 2011, texting while driving became a primary law, meaning if a police officer sees a driver texting, even while at a complete stop, he can stop that driver and cite her.

Typically, drivers who plead guilty to texting while driving will pay a $70 fine, with the possible addition of one point on their driver’s license, unless the texting led to an accident, which could mean a fine of $110 and three points on the driver’s license.

Drivers who contest the ticket and are found guilty will most likely be charged with a misdemeanor and fined $500.

Texting while driving is banned in 39 states, including Maryland, and the District of Columbia. In 2009, President Obama signed an executive order that prohibits federal government employees from texting while driving in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia. The ban extends to a federal employee’s personal vehicle if he’s driving it on official business.

Talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving is restricted in 10 states, including Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

In Maryland, both hand-held cellphone use and novice driver hand-held and hands-free cellphone use are secondary laws. This means police officers can ticket individuals using cell phones only after they have been stopped for another infraction, such as speeding or reckless driving.

To stay focused while on the road, it is recommended that drivers:

  • pull off to a safe area to text or make or receive calls;
  • ask passengers to text, make or receive calls;
  • not engage in stressful or emotional conversations;
  • avoid eating while driving;
  • pull off to a safe area while managing children;
  • pull off the road to turn on a GPS device or review maps or directions;
  • not brush hair, shave, put on makeup, or practice any other grooming habits while driving;
  • never let pets out of pet cages or carriers; and
  • pull over or ask a passenger to drive when tired or drowsy.

If you are charged with texting and driving while in Maryland, be sure to contact an attorney with Cochran and Chhabra at 888-268-5515.

Click here to read about texting while driving and vehicular manslaughter charges in Maryland.

The law office of Cochran & Chhabra has provided this website and its content for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be legal advice or counsel. Your use of this site and its content does not construct a lawyer-client relationship with Cochran & Chhabra. You should consult an attorney for individual advice concerning your particular situation.

Free Initial Consultations | Available 24/7 | Se Habla Español
Phone: 410.268.5515 Toll Free: 888.268.5515