If you're gabbing on your cell phone while driving, starting Tuesday you'll either have to hang up or face the possibility of a ticket once you cross the border into Maryland.
Starting Tuesday, police in Maryland will be able to pull drivers over for talking on a hand-held cell phone.
In Virginia, only Intermediate license holders — teen drivers — are banned from using cell phones while driving.
Texting is banned for all drivers in both states. In Virginia, police can pull you over if they suspect you of texting while driving. The fine is $125 for the first offense, and $250 for subsequent offenses.The cell phone change is the biggest of Maryland's driving laws set to take effect Tuesday. Drivers caught driving while using a hand-held mobile phone can be fined $75 for a first-time offense, up from $40 under current law, but more for subsequent violations. The ticket carries no points unless the action contributed to an accident.
Driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone was already against state law, but it was a secondary offense, meaning police could only ticket a driver for it if the driver was stopped for a primary offense, such as speeding.
AAA Mid-Atlantic officials said in a release the new law will help reduce distracted driving, which accounted for nearly half of all road fatalities in Maryland last year, according to state statistics cited in a AAA release.
“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,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Ragina C. Averella said in the release.
Another law taking effect will require all passengers to wear seat belts while traveling in the backseat of any vehicle. The new law is a secondary offense and carries a $50 fine. Children 16 and under were covered by existing state law (except children under 8 who are 4 feet 9 inches or taller), but the fine for violating that law will rise to match the fine for adults, according to the AAA release.
And furthermore, drivers will no longer be allowed to have more passengers than seat belts in a car, according to the release.
What do you think of the new cell phone law taking effect? Do you think it will have an impact on distracted driving? Tell us in the comments.