Md. County Gives Dozens of Tickets for Cell Phone Use

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    Just more than a week since cell phone use while driving was banned in Maryland, officers in one country have already cracked down, handing out more than 100 tickets thus far.

    Montgomery County Police Cpl. Gary Lewis said his department has given out 150 tickets in the nine days since the law was enacted -- in comparison with last year's 533 citations total.

    News4's Chris Gordon went on a ride-along with Lewis Wednesday, and during an hour, saw three drivers receive citations.

    "I'll sit there and watch them with one hand texting and not even looking, and it's at every intersection," Lewis said.

    According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, 58 percent of vehicle crashes in 2012 involved a distracted driver, and nearly half of the estimated 511 total fatalities were due to a distracted driver.

    It will take about two to three months before police can say if the new law has reduced crashes in the state.

    "The message from me giving a ticket is minor compared to, 'Oh, I missed something I should have seen, now I'm in a serious wreck and hurt someone or killed someone because I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing,'" Lewis said.

    A first-time offender will be fined $75, a $35 increase. A second offense will cost $125 and increase to $175 for a subsequent offense -- up from the original $100 penalty. A similar law is already in effect in the District and has been since 2004.