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Put the Smartphone Down: Revised Law Restricts 'Reading' While Driving

Effective now, drivers are no longer allowed to read messages while driving or while stopped in traffic in Maryland.

It's no longer legal to "read" text messages while driving or stopped at a traffic signal in Maryland since a revised distracted driving law took effect on Oct. 1.

Previously, loopholes in the state's texting law restricted drivers from typing a message, but allowed for an occasional peek at smartphones.

The revised law, SB 424, updated the existing ban on texting while driving to include “reading” messages (as well as writing and sending) by removing the language that allowed texting while a vehicle is stopped in traffic. It was signed into law by the governor on May 19.

Other amendments limiting a driver's behaviors—such as banning the reading of newspapers along with eating and drinking while driving—were rejected.

  • Text messaging is prohibited for all drivers.
  • Handheld cell phone use is banned for all drivers with fines up to $100.
  • Drivers under the age of 18 and drivers with learner’s permits or intermediate licenses are prohibited from using cell phones while driving.

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