Posted On: December 28, 2012

A Review of Maryland Traffic Laws (Which Some Drivers Tend to Forget)

As 2012 draws to a close, it's worth taking a look at a few Maryland traffic laws and procedures. Maryland has received generally good grades from traffic safety advocates. This past year, more counties installed traffic light speed cameras in hopes of deterring accidents at intersections and in school zones. Maryland Highway Patrol is out in force every holiday, seeking to stop and arrest drunk drivers. A new law has been proposed that would add teeth to existing Maryland DUI/DWI laws, targeting offenders who drive drunk with children in the car.

However there's still room for improvement; 493 people were killed in Maryland motor vehicle accidents in 2010 and thousands more injured (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2006 – 2010).

As Baltimore County, Maryland accident injury lawyers, we keep track of existing and new state traffic laws, as they may apply to the cases we handle for clients. Maryland has contributory negligence laws on the books, so if you as an injured party broke any traffic laws when your auto accident occurred – your eligibility for compensation and/or damages may be challenged.

Maryland drivers sometimes forget the traffic laws they learned in drivers' education class. Here are just a few you may or may not remember…

  • Maryland has banned the use of hand held cell phones while driving (albeit as a secondary offense, i.e., they must be stopped for some other infraction), and all texting while driving is illegal (a primary offense, i.e., drivers may be stopped for texting).
  • Penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in Maryland include 45 days administrative license suspension for first offense (which may be modified if driver demonstrates hardship), and ignition interlock devices. However penalties do not include vehicle forfeiture for multiple offenses. (Traffic safety advocates frown on that practice.)
  • Maryland has a universal motorcycle helmet law, requiring all motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear helmets. Operators are also required to wear protective eye wear.
  • Maryland adopted a "move over law" in 2010, requiring drivers who see police or other emergency responders at the side of the road to slow down and safely move over one lane – to avoid roadside collisions. Ironically, our neighbors in Washington, DC, where federal laws are made, have no move over law on their books.
  • Young drivers in Maryland who operate motor vehicles during intermediate or restricted licensing stages must obey night time driving restrictions (between midnight and 5 a.m.).
  • Maryland drivers age 40 and older must take a vision test at every driver's license renewal.
  • Motorists who experience trouble on Maryland highways should dial #77 for non-emergency police assistance. 911 is reserved for true emergencies.

Remember – When it comes to saving lives, traffic laws are only as good as the driving public's willingness to abide by them. Accidents still happen. As we always say, drive defensively. Have a safe and happy New Year.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:

U.S. Highway Safety Group Green Lights Maryland Traffic Laws, While Noting Areas that Need Improvement (Jan. 2012)

Sources:

Maryland State Highway Safety Laws Summary
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Maryland Traffic Safety Laws
Maryland Dept. of Transportation : State Highway Administration

Move Over America

Posted On: December 20, 2012

Maryland Bill Targets Drunk Drivers Who Transport Minors, Proposes Ignition Locks

What's worse than a drunk driver on Maryland roadways putting themselves and other motorists and pedestrians at risk? A drunk driver with kids in the car. Baltimore County drunk driving accident injury lawyers like us will tell you…motor vehicle crashes caused by alcohol-impaired drivers involving innocent children are some of the most heart-breaking cases we handle.

Maryland State Delegate Sam Arora (D – Montgomery County) would agree – and wants to prevent such reckless behavior from happening by adding teeth to Maryland DUI laws. Mr. Arora is sponsoring a new bill at the Maryland State House that would require drunk drivers caught transporting children while under the influence of alcohol to install an ignition lock device in their vehicles – and check their sobriety every time they attempt to drive.

Maryland House Bill 0032, "Drunk Driving - Transporting Minor - Ignition Interlock System Program," sponsored by Delegate Arora, was pre-filed in the House on Sept. 4, 2012 and is scheduled for First Reading by the Judiciary for Jan. 9, 2013.

Current Maryland drunken driving law does not require drunk drivers to install an ignition interlock device unless they are found to be nearly double over the legal blood alcohol concentration limit at .15 BAC. (The legal limit is .08 BAC.) Arora believes that drunk drivers found with children in the car are putting innocents at risk, and the laws to prevent them from harming children should be tougher.

Arora would like the Maryland drunk driving laws changed to require drunk drivers with a BAC of .08 or more and children in the vehicle to install the ignition interlock breathalyzer device. The device works much as the police dept. breathalyzer test: The suspected drunk driver breathes into the device and it records his or her blood alcohol concentration level. If the level is at or above the legal limit, the driver will not be able to engage the ignition of the vehicle.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) commended Mr. Aurora for introducing the Maryland bill, and agreed with him that Maryland needs tougher drunk driving laws to protect children. The MADD website states: "In 2011, Maryland mildly improved on their drunk driving law by requiring ignition interlocks for all repeat and first time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or greater. Maryland could see a significant decline in DUI related deaths, if these devices were required for all offenders."

Maryland is among several states with a DUI Child Endangerment statute on the books, which allows for additional penalties for a drunk driving conviction with a child passenger in a vehicle. Mr. Aurora would like to prevent alcohol impaired drivers in Maryland from ever getting behind the wheel and driving intoxicated with a child in their car or truck again.

He writes on his website: “Driving drunk with a child in the car is beyond reckless, and we have the tools to save lives. There is no better way to protect these children than ensuring that their drivers are sober.”

We couldn't agree more.

Related Maryland Accident Attorney article:

When Police Officers Deliver Tragic News : Someone Has Been Killed in a Maryland Drunk Driving Accident (Oct. 2011)

Sources:

Maryland to Consider Ignition Breathalyzer for Adults Who Drive Children While Drunk
Maryland Delegate Sam Arora website Dec. 19, 2012

HB 0032 Drunk Driving - Transporting Minor - Ignition Interlock System Program
Maryland General Assembly website collected Dec. 19, 2012