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Overview of distracted driving laws in Maryland

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2021 | blog, criminal defense, motor vehicle accidents |

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports distracted driving causes about 280,000 injuries per year. In 2019, data from the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety reported distracted driving cost employers over $18 billion. Distracted driving in Glen Burnie, Maryland, is an often avoidable crime that comes with stiff penalties.

Distracted driving overview

Distracted driving is defined as any activity that takes a driver’s mind and attention away from the road. Some activities that count as distracted driving include reading or sending texts, talking on mobile devices, changing the radio, and adjusting controls. Not all distractions are prohibited by law while driving, such as eating, but they can raise the risk of accidents.

Maryland’s distracted driving law prohibits drivers from using cellphones while the vehicle is in motion, except for emergencies or to start or end calls. Drivers under 18 may not use a hand-held communication device to text or call, even hands-free, except to call emergency services.

Penalties for distracted driving

Under criminal law, the driver may have to pay $83 for a first offense using a cellphone while driving. For the second offense, the fine increase to up to $140 and up to $175 for a third offense. Texting while driving includes a $70 fine for a first offense and one point added to the driver’s license without accidents.

All penalties may increase if the driver caused a fatal accident or injury while using a cellphone and driving. If the driver is under 18, they could face a 90-day license suspension in addition to the ticket fines. A driver who causes a fatal accident while distracted faces vehicular homicide charges, which include up to a $5,000 fine and one to three years in jail.

Distracted driving is a serious matter, regardless of accidents, and it can increase auto insurance rates. However, drivers can defend the charges with several defenses to drop or reduce charges to misdemeanors.

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