Md. delegate looks for stronger law on cellphones while driving

WASHINGTON – Drivers in Maryland already are forbidden from texting while driving, and they could have a tougher time talking on handheld phones as well.

Police currently can cite drivers in the state for talking on the phone, but only if they’re stopped for another violation first.

The Gazette reports a bill being proposed by Delegate James E. Malone Jr. (D-Baltimore County) would make talking on a phone while driving a primary offense, meaning drivers could be pulled over if that’s the only thing they’re doing wrong.

In D.C., drivers can be stopped for using a handheld device on the road. In Virginia, texting while driving is banned, but motorists have to be pulled over for another offense before being penalized for using the phone.

Under the Maryland legislation, drivers violating the law would receive a point on their licenses and a fine of up to $500. If a first-time offender appears in court with proof of buying a hands-free device, the penalties can be waived. The law would not apply to those using hands-free devices.

A similar proposal failed last year in Maryland. Texting while driving in Maryland already is a primary offense.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report. Follow @AugensteinWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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