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Md. Texting While Driving Ban Starts Saturday

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A driver uses a cell phone to text while driving.
(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
  A driver uses a cell phone to text while driving.

If you drive in Maryland, its time to put that cellphone down and stop texting. Beginning Saturday, police in Maryland can stop and ticket drivers who use their mobile phones to text, email or read messages while driving.

"The state wanted to tighten up the law and make it clear that when you're driving on Maryland roads they expect you to drive on Maryland roads not reading email or responding to texts," says Lon Anderson of AAA from the Mid-Atlantic, which pushed hard for the change.

Police issued more than 9,000 tickets to drivers for texting, but supporters of the measure felt making the primary offense would better accomplish the goal of getting drivers to stop texting, so state lawmakers okayed the switch earlier this year.

The first offense carries a fine of $70 and one point on the individual's driver's license. But if police believe the texting caused an accident, the fine jumps to $110 and three points toward a suspended license.

Two other new traffic laws will also take effect today. One would expand the number of people who have to breathe into an alcohol measuring device that locks their vehicle before the can drive if they exceed the legal limit. The other makes it a misdemeanor to cause the death of a person while operating a vehicle in a criminally negligent manner.

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