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Md. Officials Look To Ban Handheld Cell Phones While Driving

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The debate over driving and using a handheld cell phone is alive again, after some state politicians say the current law is too weak.

Weijia Jiang has more on the efforts to try and ramp it up.

Driving and using a handheld cell phone at the same time is against the law in Maryland, but you’ll only get a ticket some of the time.

“You have to be doing something else before a police officer can pull you over,” said State Delegate Jimmy Malone.

Something else, like speeding or running a red light.

But an officer can’t pull someone over just for using a handheld phone because it’s only considered a secondary offense. And that angers drivers like Gina Linebarger.

“You’re going to plow into somebody. It’s not worth killing yourself or someone else. The law should be no cell phones at any time if you’re behind the wheel, period,” Linebarger said.

Malone is sponsoring a bill that would make that the new law.

“I want it to be a primary offense and I want it to be identical to the texting bill,” said Malone.

That law gives police the power to pull drivers over just for texting behind the wheel with no other violations necessary.

“Extending that to holding phones will most likely make motorists obey the law and increase the enforcability of the current statute,” said Christine Delise of AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Critics of distracted driving legislation argue it’s a slippery slope, and there are plenty of other distractions on the road that are legal. Still, most drivers hope Malone succeeds.

“Officers should pull them over for safety. Someone could get real hurt talking on the phone. I don’t deal with them while I’m driving,” said Leroy Mills.

Last year’s version of this bill passed on the House floor, but it didn’t get out of the Senate. The House will vote on this year’s version next week.

Right now, nine states and Washington D.C. enforce the law as a primary offense.

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