New Maryland Motor Vehicle Laws for 2020 Now in Effect

Several new Maryland motor vehicle laws went into effect on October 1, 2020 — on issues ranging from motor vehicle insurance coverage to license plate border violations, to electronic sales of motor vehicles, and emissions law exceptions for active duty military personnel.

The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) reports of the 300 bills it monitored in the 2020 Maryland General Assembly session, 35 have a direct impact on the department, its customers, transportation-related issues, and potentially—your driving. Here are a few of the new Maryland traffic laws now in effect.

Uninsured or Enhanced Underinsured Motorist Coverage – Property Damage
House Bill 0144 – Insurance. Many cases that come through our Maryland motor vehicle accident injury practice involves our clients’ auto insurance — or in some cases (on either side of the claim) — lack of auto insurance. This newly enacted bill clarifies certain components in the uninsured motorist coverage or enhanced underinsured motorist coverage in a motor vehicle insurance policy. Specifically, an insurance policy must provide for recovery by the insured from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle because of property damage, and provide minimum security required for bodily injury and property damage.

Registrations Plate Frames and Borders – Enforcement
Senate Bill 0859 and House Bill 0200 – Vehicle Laws. Do you have a decorative frame around your car or truck’s license plate? Maybe one that shows pride for the Buckeyes or the Ravens? Or something the car dealership provided? Those decorative frames cannot obscure the license plate or its numbers in any way that hinders identification. However, the new law states that a violation involving the placement of an object framing or bordering the edges of a registration plate is a secondary offense, enforceable only when a driver has been detained for another suspected violation.

Suspension of Driver’s License or Registration — Unpaid Citations or Judgments
Senate Bill 0234 and House Bill 0280 – Vehicle Laws. This bill restricts the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s ability to suspend a driver’s license for nonpayment of a traffic citation or judgment. It also lowers the threshold for offenders to request a payment plan for fines from $300 to $150, and prompts the state to review current installment plans and apply retroactively to drivers whose licenses were previously suspended.

Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program – Deployed Military Personnel – Exemption
House Bill 0133 exempts vehicles owned by at least one deployed active-duty military member from emissions inspection requirements. This new law applies if the vehicle owner has an order for deployment outside of the United States or to a duty station in a jurisdiction not subject to a vehicle emissions control inspection and maintenance program.

Electronic Transactions – Sale and Lease of Vehicles
Senate Bill 0134 and House Bill 0139 – Consumer Protection. The time-honored tradition of “kicking the tires” to check out an automobile for purchase has been, in many cases, replaced with researching and buying a motor vehicle online. Fortunately, the state of Maryland provides protection for consumers who prefer to buy a car from the comfort of their living room. This new bill covers aspects of the electronic sale and delivery of a motor vehicle. It provides that a consumer is only deemed to have agreed to enter into an electronic transaction for vehicle sale or lease if they have been provided by the dealer with a clear and readable copy of each document requiring consumer signature in an electronic or written form, and reasonable opportunity to review the documents before electronically signing.


Maryland 2020 Legislation Highlights
Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration
Collected online Dec. 1, 2020

Maryland Drivers Need To Know About These New Laws Now In Effect
WJZ 13 CBS Baltimore Oct. 1, 2020

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