New Traffic Laws Taking Effect in the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia


New traffic laws
took effect in Maryland and the District of Columbia on October 1, 2011, that will affect every driver in these two jurisdictions.  Hopefully these laws will help save lives and reduce crashes on our roadways.

Effective October 1, 2011, police officers in Maryland can pull over drivers who appear to be texting while driving. This law closes a loophole in Maryland law that did not allow officers to pull over drivers suspected of texting while driving unless the driver was pulled over for another offense.  In other words, if an officer saw a person texting while driving prior to October 1st, the officer could not pull over the driver and cite them for the violation unless another "primary" violation occurred.  Now, texting while driving is considered a "primary" offense, and officers can now pull over drivers suspected of texting and driving without witnessing any other traffic offenses.

If the violation does not involve an accident, the fine is $70.00, and one point is assessed on the driver's driving record.  If the texting driver was involved in an accident, the fine goes up to $110.00, and the offense includes three points on the driver's record.

Another new Maryland traffic law will allow criminal prosecution of drivers in accidents whose negligence causes the death of bicyclists, pedestrians and others.  The new law makes it a misdemeanor to cause the death of another person if the driver operates his vehicle in a criminally negligent manner.

Another change in Maryland law that took effect October 1st involves the use of interlock devices in cars of drunk drivers who are repeat offenders, and drivers under 21 who are found to have a blood alcohol concentation of above .02.  Drivers who are convicted of drunk driving with a blood alcohol concentration over .15 will also be required to have the interlock device installed in their cars.

In the District of Columbia, numerous changes at the Department of Motor Vehicles will increase fees for numerous services for drivers, including the cost of obtaining duplicate driving licenses, temporary driver's licenses, change of address notifications and residential parking permits.
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