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Local Delegate Reintroduces Cell Phone Ban Legislation

Proposed legislation would make driving while talking a primary offense.

By Amper Larkins, Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS - Delegate James E. Malone, Jr., D-Howard and Baltimore County, does not want you talking on the phone while you drive.

Tuesday, he proposed legislation that would make it a primary offense to use a cell phone while driving. If passed, a police officer could pull over a driver just for talking on the phone.

Currently, using a hand-held cell phone while driving is a secondary offense, which means the driver must be pulled over for some other offense.

“Now is the time. I don't think we can wait any longer,” Malone said, at a press conference in Annapolis.    

The bill would mirror language from the texting ban that was passed last legislative session. Driving while using a hand-held cell phone would be a moving violation, incur a point on the driver's license and a fine of up to $500.  

However, first time offenders who bought hands-free devices and presented them to the court could have their cases dismissed.

Malone introduced similar legislation last year, which failed, but thinks this year will be different.    

“I feel very confident. We are one vote away to get the bill to the Senate. And I feel like if we get it to the Senate, then it will pass," Malone said.

Sen. James N. Robey, D-Howard, a former police chief, is again sponsoring the cross-filed bill in the Senate.

“I'm not going to give up on this for as long as I'm in Annapolis. If not this year, we'll be back next year,” Robey said “It has to be done.”

John Kuo, the administrator of the Motor Vehicle Administration, presented data from the National Safety Council in support of the bill. In 2011, 23 percent of crashes involved cell phones, and 7,894 citations were issued for cell phone usage while driving in Maryland.

“Cell phone use absolutely is distracted driving,” Kuo said.

Related:

- Cell Phone Ban: What You Need to Know

MG42 January 23, 2013 at 04:43 PM
In all seriousness, I see Howard County Police officers talking on their cell phones while driving in their patrol cars more than any other demographic. That's about what I expect from government, though.
Polly January 24, 2013 at 04:14 PM
I for one am in favor of this law but would include texting into the language. Everywhere I go selfish people are yakking or texting visibly way to often. Some times it's has almost been involved in an accident. Just yesterday I witnessed a woman coming off an exit entering 695 just yakking away and just barely averted a collision. I can't tell you how many times I'd love to get out of my car and tell those selfish jerks to get off the damn phone, you really aren't that important. I can't imagine any call/message that is so important that you can't stop and/or pull over to do it. H.R. - unless and until you can prove that the police are on their cellphones for personal reasons leave it alone. Not to mention that they are trained to drive and multitask already. And you are wrong about them doing it the most, it's woman. I'm a woman and I value my life much more than a phone call and so should everyone else. Your constant bitching about the government is lost on this article.

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