Three New Maryland Traffic Laws Effective October 1, 2011

Three new laws went into effect on October 1, 2011.  Maryland drivers should be aware of these changes.

  1. Anti- texting law expanded-  Before October 1, 2011, a Maryland driver could not text while driving.  Effective October 1, 2011, the driver cannot even read a text, even when the car is stopped.  As long as your car is “in the travel portion of the roadway,”  you cannot “write, send or read a text message or an electronic message.”  This remains a secondary offense, meaning that you cannot be stopped for this offense, but you can be charged under this law, if a Police Officer has another basis for stopping you.See also:
  2. Expanded Alcohol Interlock-  If you are stopped by a Police Officer and you are found to have a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher, or, if you have been suspended or convicted for an alcohol offense within the last five years, you will be required to have an interlock device in your vehicles.You will have to keep the interlock device in your car for one year, if you want to drive.  See also:
  3. New offense of Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel-  In response to a number of  tragic road fatalities, the Legislature created a new form of vehicular manslaughter with a maximum penalty of three years in jail and/or $5000.00 fine. The law states that a driver can be convicted if he/she  “acts in a criminally negligent manner.”  What is criminal negligence?  There are two requirements:

(1) the driver “fails to perceive that” his/her  “conduct creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk” ; and

(2) this  “failure to perceive” by the driver “constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that would be exercised by a reasonable driver.” (emphasis in original).  Given the terms “substantial” “unjustifiable” and “gross deviation”, I suspect that this statute will be the subject of much litigation to determine exactly what these standards mean  in the context of this law.

Be careful out there on the roadways!