Governor Martin O’Malley is set to sign a new bill into law that will add Maryland to a small but growing list of states that ban talking on a cell phone while behind the wheel of a car.
It is likely to be the last bill that the lame duck governor will sign, reports the Baltimore Sun newspaper. It is part of a large set of bills that O’Malley is scheduled to sign into law.
The state legislature passed the bill after reaching compromises that will allow hands-free devices to be permitted and eliminate harsher penalties.
Under the new law, drivers would face a $40 fine for the first time caught talking on a mobile phone while driving, which jumps to $100 for every further offense.
Maryland already prohibits drivers from texting while driving, and motorists under the age of 18 without a permanent license (i.e., a learner’s permit) are banned from talking on a mobile phone. The new law will expand that restriction to all drivers and will take effect on October 1.
It will make Maryland the 7th state to outright ban cell phone talking while driving. Washington DC and the US Virgin Islands also have cell phone driving bans.
Half of the states still don’t even have legislation about texting while driving, which makes driving between state lines ever confusing for people. Perhaps one day all the states will agree on something…yeah, maybe not.