New Maryland Cell Phone, Seat Belt Laws Take Effect October 1, 2013 – News Release


City of Takoma Park Police Department

● 7500 Maple Avenue ● Takoma Park, Md 20912


For more information contact:

Public Information Officer (PIO)

Catherine Plevy, 301-891-7142 or 240-338-2901


September 26, 2013 (10:30 am)


Starting October 1, 2013, police in Maryland will be able to pull drivers over for talking on a hand-held cell phone as a primary offense. Even if your phone is on speaker, if you’re holding it in your hand, you will be violating the law.

That’s the biggest change in Maryland’s driving laws set to take effect at the beginning of next month. Drivers caught driving while using a hand-held mobile phone can be fined $83 for a first-time offense, up from $40 under current law, but $140 for a 2nd offense and $160 for a 3rd and subsequent offense. The ticket carries no points unless the action contributed to an accident, in which three (3) points will also be assessed in addition to the fine.

Driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone was already against state law, but it was a secondary offense, meaning police had to have another primary reason to pull a driver over, such as speeding.

Also, drivers using hands to use handheld telephones while operating a commercial motor vehicle, 1st offense is a $290 fine and also a primary traffic offense.

Drivers still have other options with hands free devices like blue-tooth, but police stress the safest method is pulling your car off the road to make calls. Talking or texting on a cell phone is the number one source of driver distraction. On average, more than 30,000 people in Maryland are injured annually as a result of distracted driving crashes.

Another law taking effect will require all passengers to wear seat belts while traveling in the backseat of any vehicle. The new law is a secondary offense and carries a $50 fine. Children 16 and under were covered by existing state law (except children under 8 or are 4 feet 9 inches or taller), but the fine for violating that law will rise to match the fine for adults.

And furthermore, drivers will no longer be allowed to have more passengers than seat belts in a car.

Not a new law, just a friendly reminder:

Drivers engaged in TEXTING while (driving, operating) a commercial motor vehicle is a $250 fine. If the violation contributed to an accident, the fine is $1,000.00.

A child younger than 16 years may not ride in an unenclosed cargo bed of a pick-up truck.

New Increased fines:

The following violations are now $83.00 fines:

Failing to secure a child under the age of 8 in a child safety seat when transporting in a motor vehicle.

Fail to transport a child under age 16 in (child safety seat per instructions, seat belt).

Using a (child safety seat, seatbelt) to (restrain, seat, position) more than one individual.

Operate a motor vehicle with (operator, occupant under age 16) not restrained by (seatbelt, child safety seat).

Passenger age 16 or more in outboard front seat of motor vehicle. without seat belt restraint. Example of an "outboard front seat" is a front passenger seat next to a door.

New Secondary Traffic Offense:

Passengers age 16 or more in rear seat of motor vehicle without seatbelt restraint. The fine is $83.00, including court costs.

Who is covered by the law?

The law covers the driver and passengers in both the front and back seats. Each person that is not buckled up (driver and passenger) may receive a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt.

In the case where neither the driver nor any passenger 15 years of age or younger are buckled up, the driver will receive a ticket for both.