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A Baltimore County delegate wants to crack down on drivers who use hand-held cellphones by giving police broader power to ticket them.
Del. James E. Malone Jr. (D) announced Tuesday that he’s proposing legislation that would allow police to pull over cellphone users even if they were committing no other offense.
“We do not want anybody to use a cellphone in the roadway,” Malone said. “If you need to use a cellphone, pull over.”
Violators would receive one point on their driver’s license and a fine of up to $500, but first-time offenders could have their citations thrown out if they prove to the court that they’ve purchased a hands-free device, Malone said.
Those using hands-free devices would be exempt from the law, he said.
It’s currently illegal to use a hand-held phone while driving, but because it isn’t considered a primary offense, police can only penalize drivers if they are pulled over for another violation.
“Cellphone use is absolutely distracted driving and is a known danger,” said state Motor Vehicle Administrator John T. Kuo, who appeared with Malone and other lawmakers at a press conference Tuesday. About 1.2 million car crashes each year involve drivers using cellphones, Kuo said.
A study found that more than 6 percent of Maryland drivers used hand-held phones, Kuo said, adding that there are more than 4 million licensed drivers in the state.
Several lawmakers appeared with Malone at the press conference, including House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Del. A. Wade Kach (R-Baltimore).