Penalties for Breaking Maryland Distracted Driving Laws

A recent study declared that there are now more mobile devices and cell phones in the United States than there are people. This spike in technology use has created a number of new legal issues, with distracted driving being key among them.

The Maryland Highway Safety Office estimated that more than one in five crashes between 2008 and 2012 involved a driver using some sort of mobile device, or a “distracted driver.” These statistics have prompted Maryland officials to crack down on distracted driving, enacting stricter laws and penalties for those convicted of driving while using hand held devices.

At Houlon Berman, it is our job to remain up to date on all changes in Maryland traffic legislation. We pride ourselves on helping our clients get the best legal advice with personalized attention. We can help you understand your legal rights and avoid unnecessary penalties that could tarnish your driving record.

Distracted Driving is Always Dangerous

There are three main types of distracted driving, but all are dangerous.

  • Visual distraction, which means that the driver has taken his eyes off the road
  • Manual distraction, which specifies that the driver has removed his hands from the steering wheel
  • Cognitive distraction, meaning that the driver has stopped focusing on his driving

Distracted driving is a very serious violation of the law. It has been proven to be increasingly dangerous over the past few years with the rise in cell phone use. Some call it “the new drunk driving.” Studies have shown that distracted drivers often display the same driving ability as those who drive while intoxicated or falling asleep.

Texting or talking on the phone while driving not only hinders the driver’s ability to steer as needed in case of an emergency, but it also takes the driver’s focus off the road for seconds at a time.

Houlon Berman takes distracted driving violations seriously and believes that improved driver education could make it more likely to eradicate this danger from Maryland’s roads.

Cell Phone Laws in Maryland

In short, all Maryland drivers are prohibited from using a mobile device that does not include a hands-free option. Drivers may use cell phones as long as they use speaker phone, a Bluetooth wireless device, or a wired headset. Drivers under 18-years old are prohibited from using any sort of mobile device. Texting while driving is strictly prohibited.

Fines for cell phone use while driving range from $75 for a first offense to $175 for a repeat offense. It is important to note that cell phone use and texting while driving are primary laws, meaning that an officer may pull a driver over if they are seen using a handheld cell phone or texting while driving. Violations are considered misdemeanor crimes; those convicted could face fines and have points imposed on their licenses.

If a driver causes an accident that results in serious bodily injury or death as a result of using a handheld cell phone or texting while driving, the driver can be subjected to much harsher penalties. A conviction in these cases can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of $5,000.

Among legislation currently in consideration is Jake’s Law. This new cell phone law in Maryland, named after five-year old Jake Owen, who was killed by a driver using a cell phone, would require drivers under suspicion of distracted driving to hand over their phone to police to confirm their phone activity at the time of the crash. While some view the invasion of privacy as unnecessary, Jake’s Law has many supporters.

What You Can Do

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration has provided drivers with tips on how they can avoid the dangers of distracted driving.

For any additional questions or legal advice, please schedule a consultation or click the button below to contact us online. We believe in informing our clients of their rights as citizens and providing them with the very best legal counsel. If you have been charged with any kind of traffic violation, including distracted driving, Houlon Berman will analyze your case and create the best defense possible.

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