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What are Maryland’s distracted driving laws?

The state of Maryland has enacted several laws to keep drivers from engaging in activities behind the wheel that could cause injurious or fatal collisions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines distracted driving as any activity that takes a driver's full attention away from the road in front of him or her. For example, drivers who use a cellphone, eat, do their makeup, switch the radio or use a GPS device are distracted. Since any form of distracted driving can increase the risk of a motor vehicle accident, the state of Maryland has enacted several laws to reduce the number of drivers, passengers and pedestrians injured or killed in a distraction-related collision.

Violations for distracted driving

In Maryland, according to the Maryland Vehicle Administration, drivers are not permitted to use a handheld device to begin or end a phone call or to turn their cellphone on or off while they are operating a vehicle. Drivers who commit this offense:

  • For the first time can be fined up to $83
  • For the second time may be fined a maximum of $140
  • For the third time may be fined up to $160

However, drivers will not be charged a fine if they are calling 911, a fire department, law enforcement, an ambulance service provider or a first aid squad.

In addition to this law, it is illegal for drivers to read, send or write a text or electronic message while they are driving. Drivers who commit this offense will be charged $70 and one point will be added to their driver's license. If the incident contributes to a car accident, the fine can be as much as $110 and three points will be added to their license. A driver who causes serious injury or death because they were talking or texting on a cellphone may have to spend up to three years in prison and pay a fine amounting to up to $5,000.

The distracted driving problem

Despite the existence of these laws, many drivers in Maryland are injured or killed in car accidents related to distracted driving on a regular basis. The CDC states that on a daily basis in the U.S., eight people are killed in a distracted driving-related collision. Additionally, every day in the U.S., 1,161 people are injured in a car accident caused by distraction.

Drivers who are harmed in a car accident caused by a driver who was distracted may suffer severe emotional, mental and physical injuries. For this reason, those in Maryland harmed in one of these collisions should reach out to an attorney who can protect their right to fair and proper compensation.

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The firm of Reinstein, Glackin, Patterson & Herriott, LLC, practices law in Bowie, Maryland. It works with clients in the cities of Bowie, Columbia, Annapolis, Crofton, Upper Marlboro, Odenton, Glenn Dale, La Plata, Dunkirk, Prince Frederick, Severna Park, Hyattsville, Clinton, Silver Spring and Forestville, and in these counties: Prince George's County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, St. Mary's County, Charles County and Montgomery County.

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