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.

Comments (24)
  1. TEAJAY says:

    Why should citizens obey when they see police using them while driving ?

    1. tdelucca says:

      Because police are exempt, the car is our office and plus most police can multi-task unlike women.

      1. Diane King says:

        The police are exempt from all the rules of the road aren’t they? That’s certainly the way it appears anyway.

      2. larryag says:

        BS , you do it because you can and cops do whatever they want

      3. knowledge says:

        because cops are God, at least eht think they are. No the interrogation room and the office at your station is your office. The only difference is that the state will train a pig to multitask behind a wheel, the state will not show the average citizen how to be a “prudent” driver as the law so eloquently puts it. Yea like they would teach a peasant how to be safe, they would rather have us to blame… Like the cop going over 60mph that killed a woman and her newborn on Old Mill Rd. back in 1999-2000 as I recall. The cop has his lights on but a distracted driver and distracted cop( only 60yds of visible sight) collided killling the newborn and mother. tdelucca… shame on you for justifying a pompous law. If the woman had proper driving training then they would be alive but now that cop has to live with the knowledge of the ones he killed by not maintaining a safe speed to a call( yet any other time it take 20 mins to show up to a crime that is already over. Pathetic…

    2. meeeeee says:

      Because cops are God in their own eyes. No really it is because the state trains them and neglects to teach us how to be truly safe behind the wheel. If we were not safe then the state cannot profit off of driving infractions. There is no other reason besides they are afraid to be outrun by some criminal who might be trained to drive rather than cause a fatal accident.

    3. Deedee says:

      Bravo!!!!! That is so true. Driving down the road breaking the law themselves as a police officer you would think they would be a role model. I was dumbfounded the first time I seen an officer doing so driving on the 695.

  2. ooo yeah says:

    Although I use a cell phone whilst driving all the time I agree with this law. If it was a primary offense I may not do it – but until then I’m unstoppable!

  3. outkasts says:

    Cell phone drivers look exactly like drunk drivers.Most are all over the road and crossing over into traffic.What a stupid law we have?

  4. Steve Wilson says:

    The question is, even if this is a primary offense, will the police enforce it? We have all sorts of primary offense driving laws and police simply ignore offenders. While strongly supporting this law, what we need is a law forcing police to enforce the laws.

  5. WhatTheHay says:

    I think Annapolis needs to get real and deal with the main problems at hand such as getting some businesses and JOBS into this economic wasteland. I am still waiting for the stats that prove that cell phone use is causing accidents. There are no numbers from ANY state that show it. The DOT’s press release states “distracted driving” however no breakout of cell phone use is done. Heck, there are so many distractions that perhaps Annapolis might be wise to ban driving altogether. Uh, but then the state won’t be able to collect all the increased tolls and the increased sales tax on gas the guvner wants.

  6. happyjack says:

    Cell phone drivers, (hand held) are like people who smoke……STUPID. It will kill them eventually & others around them.

    1. meeeeee says:

      Better than smokin pole like you. How is this a smokers issue? or you just need a tampex replacement??? If I make shyt wages due to a society that refuses to offer enough jobs at living wage then I can kill myself any way I please. Better than paying into a failed society. But hey non-smokers are GOD right?

      This is an issue about driving distracted, just like when you perv by a elementary school.

  7. Wiseguy says:

    …..Just require all vehicles to have big arse rubber bumpers completely around them………then let everybody do what they want while driving. Takes care of everything……someone going to slow ,just bump them to the side. Someone texing while driving….just bump them to the out of your way. A tipsy driver….wham…bounce them to the side of the road. Someone gives you the middle finger salute…bam….move over rover. Run the highways like the bumber cars in amusement parks because they are like that anyway. LOL

  8. Debbie says:

    On my drive in this morning, a 20 minute ride) I counted 27 people talking on cell phones. Just how will police have the time to enforce this law?
    I also passed an electronic billboard at the bottom of the Hanover St bridge that changes every few seconds. Of course it advertises the Aquarium, the zoo, the polar plunge etc so it is ok if that is distracting since it benefits the state.

  9. The mechanic says:

    They should ban nose picking, masturbating, putting on makeup & getting a blow job also.

    1. Houston We Have arrived says:

      …………Sounds like a voice of expieriance?

      1. Brian says:

        yea, its called the mile wide club….you’re not a member?

  10. Flo says:

    I see so many people still texting or talking on their cell phones while driving. Why is it so hard for people to put these things away while they drive. Everyone has to come back with a smart answer. I saw an accident the other day, a girl went right through a red light and T-boned the passenger in the other car (who had the green light). Yep! She was on her cell phone. There were injuries to the people who had the green light. Another guy went off the road and up a pole because he was texting. A lot of people cannot follow a simple safe rule. They should be walking.

  11. Kathleen Ward says:

    Why don’t they make the fines exorbitant so that it is cost prohibitive ie: $1000, perhaps then we could save some lives and maybe even balance the budget.

  12. happyjack says:

    kathleen, you’re on to something toot’s.

  13. Kathleen Ward says:

    Common sense, something the government and politicians seem to be lacking, boggles my mind. Thanks for the “toots” comment, made me smile:)

  14. W74 says:

    Oh Lawdy! The blacks don’t even follow the rule we passed a year and a half ago about not using hand-on devices and texting.

    I can’t tell you how often I see their sows blabbing away (almost every third car) or how often I’ve seen their bucks with the backwards $40 baseball hat swerving across both sides of the lane while attempting to type a text (probably on a taxpayer paid phone too!).

    Unless you strap steep penalties and/or loss of phone privileges for these people they simply aren’t going to follow the law, they don’t anyway, but at least make it come down hard on them. Me: I’m adult enough wait until I’ve arrived at my destination to handle business.

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