At Clark and Steinhorn, the cases we see come in often portend future changes in the law. As cell phones became ubiquitous, we saw an influx of cases in which our clients perceived that they were struck because the other driver was on the phone or texting.

The next thing we knew the District of Columbia was enacting the most comprehensive "distracted driving" laws in the nation. Soon Maryland followed suit and even Virginia. Federal and state government agencies joined in and even Oprah got on the bandwagon.

While the District of Columbia from the start had highly restrictive laws, the other jurisdictions took a more gradual approach.

Now Maryland is taking the next step in the evolution of creating a comprehensive scheme to make "distracted driving" less prevalent and less deadly.

On October 1, 2010, Maryland drivers will no longer be permitted to use handheld devices to make and receive phone calls. The new law will require the use of hands free devices. The enforcement mechanism will however be tricky.

Tickets may only be meted out for violations of the new law as a so called secondary violation. What that means is that officers can only issue tickets for violations when the violator is also observed engaging in some other primary violation of Maryland law. Which is to say don't speed and use a handheld device or you are likely to get a ticket for both.

The effectiveness of such secondary charges is debatable, but there is no debate that this will enhance the safety of Maryland's roads and reduce deadly crashes. 

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