Don’t Read This While Driving – Maryland Texting Law

There law has changed in Maryland for all you texters out there. You are now prohibited from reading text messages while driving and may be pulled over by police under a new state law taking effect Saturday. A first offense of reading or sending a text while behind the wheel carries a fine of $70. A second-offense fine will be $110.

You may be saying to yourself that this is old news. Well, while this is new law it can also be considered a tweak of the old law to clear up a loophole. Maryland banned sending text messages while driving two years ago. Before, you were not allowed to text while driving, but it was only a secondary offense. This means that police officers were not allowed to pull you over simply for texting. They could only charge you for texting while driving if you were on your phone while committing another offense (i.e. speeding). Under the new law, there is no longer this prerequisite.

Things you should know:

  1. Not only can you not text and send messages but no longer will you be able to read and receive texts.
  2. The law applies both while driving or stopped at a light.
  3. Police can stop you if they see you texting; before police needed another traffic violation to cite you for texting (secondary offense) but now they can stop you just for texting ( a primary offense).
  4. You can be fined $70 and get 1 point on your driver’s license but if police determine texting caused an accident, the finejumps to $110 and 3 points.
  5. Your driver’s license can be suspended with as little as 8 points and revoked at 12.

Under the new law, those caught texting can be fined $70 and receive one point toward suspension of a driver’s license. But if the action is judged to have caused an accident, the fine increases to $110 and the number of points to three.

The law won’t apply to texting 9-1-1 or using a global positioning system (gps), so you can still use your phone to get directions while you are driving. Still, you may want to be careful when using the phone for any purpose. Maryland has enacted another new law to make you think twice before having one eye on the road and one eye on your phone. Another new Maryland traffic law is intended to allow criminal prosecution of drivers whose negligence results in the death of bicyclists, pedestrians, and others.

Before this law was passed, many drivers who killed with a motor vehicle were often only fined. Some were not even required to appear in court. Under the new law, it is a misdemeanor for a person to cause the death of another as a result of the person’s driving, operating or controlling a vehicle or vessel in a criminally negligent manner. Staring at your phone while driving could be seen by the court to be a criminally negligent act.

Here at the Law Offices of Fredric G. Antenberg, we handle traffic accidents and citations. We can help explain your options under the new laws, and discuss how you should proceed with your case. If you or someone you know has gotten a traffic citation or been in an accident, contact Fred Antenberg at 410-730-4404.