New Traffic Safety Laws Take Effect In Maryland Saturday

Reading texts while driving included in new laws

By Kathy Banks
|  Thursday, Sep 29, 2011  |  Updated 3:41 PM EDT
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New Md. Traffic Safety Laws Start Saturday

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A triad of new traffic safety laws take effect in Maryland Saturday.

Reading a text or email message will be against the law. It’s already a violation to write or send a text while driving.

Two other new laws close what safety officials describe as critical and long-standing loopholes.

Starting the first of the month, there will be stiffer penalties for motorists who kill someone.

“Before this law was passed, many drivers who killed with a motor vehicle often only faced fines and many were not even required to appear in court,” said Lon Anderson, of AAA Mid-Atlantic. “House Bill 363 will make it a misdemeanor for a person to cause the death of another as a result of the person’s driving, operating or controlling a vehicle or vessel in a criminally negligent manner.”

The third law expands the number of people affected by Maryland’s mandatory Ignition Interlock System Program – a program designed to keep drunken drivers off the road.

Starting Saturday, the locking system will be required for repeat offenders, for drivers under 21 convicted of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.02 or higher and for those drivers convicted at the 0.15 level. (Maryland’s legal limit is 0.08.)

The interlock system is a mechanism that works like a Breathalyzer. It’s installed on the dashboard. Before the vehicle’s motor can be started, the driver must first exhale into the device and “pass the test.”

The expanded interlock law is expected to affect 4,700 additional motorists across the state.

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