Maryland Cell Phone Law Fact Sheet – Effective October 1, 2013

  1. What is Maryland's Cell Phone Law that takes effect on October 1, 2013?

    Maryland Senate Bill 339  and House Bill 753 were signed into law by Governor O'Malley. This bill makes the handheld use of a cell phone by a driver enforceable as a primary offense, meaning that the police may stop an individual for these offenses without the driver committing any other offense. An individual who is under the age of 18 years may not use a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle at any time.

  2. What exceptions are allowed?

    Phone calls placed to 9-1-1, ambulance, hospital, fire, or law enforcement agencies are allowed, as are calls
    made by emergency and law enforcement personnel. A driver is allowed to turn a handheld phone on or off
    and to initiate or terminate a call.

  3. Is the law a primary offense?

    The new law has been changed from a secondary offense to a primary offense as of October 1, 2013. The police may stop an individual for using a handheld cellphone without the driver committing any other offense.

  4. What is the fine for the offense?

    The bill also increases the maximum fines applicable to violations by drivers who are 18 years of age or older to $75 for a first violation, $125 for a second violation, and $175 for a third or subsequent violation. The bill prohibits imposition of points for violations by drivers who are 18 years of age or older unless the violation contributes to an accident.

  5. Is this the same law as the texting law?

    No, Maryland also bans texting while driving. This law prohibits an individual from writing or sending a text
    message while operating a motor vehicle that is in motion or in the travel portion of the highway. If
    convicted of violating this law a person may be assessed a fine not exceeding $500. This law does not apply
    to texting 9-1-1 or using a global positioning system.

  6. Why is this law needed?

    Studies indicate that cell phone conversations distract a driver and delays reaction time, which can cause
    and increase the severity of a vehicular crash. The National Safety Council has estimated that cell phone use
    is responsible for 1.6 million crashes a year, nationally -- about 28 percent of all crashes. Maryland now join 7 other states (Calif., Conn., Del., N.J., N.Y., Ore. and Wash.), D.C. and the Virgin Islands in banning handheld cell phone use while driving. For more information, please visit www.ChooseSafetyForLife.com