“Maryland has joined D.C. in making the use of handheld cell phones while driving a primary offense.

Law enforcement officers can stop any driver they see using a handheld wireless device while operating a vehicle. The law went into effect October 1.

Getting caught will also cost you a little more. A first-time offender will be fined $83. A second offense will cost $140 and increase to $160 for a subsequent offense.

But there is one exception. Drivers can use their phones to call or text 911 in the event of an emergency.

The law continues to ban the use of cell phones while driving for school bus drivers, those under 18 and adults who hold learner’s permits.

“We are pleased that the Maryland General Assembly recognized the importance of strengthening the hand-held cell phone ban, as it will now serve as a real deterrent to motorists and enable police to better enforce the existing law,” Ragina C. Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic, said in a press release.

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, 58 percent of vehicle crashes in 2012 involved a distracted driver, and nearly half of the estimated 511 total fatalities were due to a distracted driver.

The use of handheld cell phones has been banned in the District since 2004, but drivers in Virginia can still pick up that ringing phone.

Texting while driving is banned in Maryland, Virginia and D.C.

In addition to the new cell phone law, everyone inside the vehicle will be required to wear a seat belt, no matter their age or location in the car.

Another new law will require drivers to change lanes for emergency vehicles on the side of the road. But the lane change should only be made if it can be done safely.

Violators of this primary offense will be fined $110 and given one point. An offense that causes an accident will lead to a $150 fine and three points while a crash that results in death will net the offender a $175 fine and three points on their license.”
Reposted Article: Erica Jones NBC 4 Washington.