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What are the penalties for distracted driving in Maryland?

| Apr 9, 2021 | motor vehicle accidents |

April is distracted driving month. Law enforcement agencies across Maryland will be raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving this month.

As part of a nationwide initiative, law enforcement in Maryland other parts of the country recently conducted a four-hour effort across several states looking for distracted drivers. In addition, law enforcement has also pledged to saturate the roads from April 8 through April 12 to apprehend distracted drivers.

Distracted driving can have serious consequences. When drivers are distracted, they drift into dangerous behavior such as driving in more than one lane, following too closely or not slowing down to avoid a crash, according to police.

A little more than 26,000 people are injured and 181 people die each year in Maryland because of distracted driving, according to the Maryland Highway Safety Office.

The Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas accounted for nearly 85% of Maryland crashes in which distracted driving was a contributing factor.

Using cell phones while driving and texting are the leading causes of distracted driving. State transportation officials say distracted driving contributes to 58 percent of all crashes in Maryland.

Distracted driving is defined as any activity that diverts attention from the road, including talking or texting on the phone; eating and drinking; and adjusting the stereo, entertainment or navigation systems, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

The state of Maryland has several penalties on the books for engaging in distracted driving.

In Maryland, using a handheld cell phone and texting are primary offenses that can result in someone being pulled over and a variety of fines. For example, using a handheld cell phone while driving in Maryland is an $83 fine for the first offense; a $110 fine and three points if a crash is involved; $140 for a second offense and a fine of $160 for the third offense.

Getting caught writing, sending or resending a text or electronic message, will cause drivers to incur a $70 fine and one point on their license, according to the Maryland Highway Safety Office.

Those under 18 can have their license suspended for using their cell phones while driving.

Because of a law put into place in 2014, drivers in Maryland who cause a serious or fatal crash while using a cell phone can get up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Safety officials have provided some commonsense tips for avoiding distracted driving such as pulling over to send texts; keeping your cellphone in the glove compartment if you can’t resist looking at it and designating a passenger to handle texts while you are driving.

The Law Office of Thomas J. Maronick is open during the pandemic and will continue to meet your Glen Burnie, Annapolis, Baltimore, Essex, Ocean City, Towson, White Marsh distracted driver defense needs. An Ocean City distracted driving defense attorney can help if you have been charged with distracted driving. The consultation is free.

We can meet with you remotely if you have access to Zoom. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.885.1775 or through the website for a free consultation.

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