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House OKs strengthening distracted driving law

ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland House of Delegates has passed a measure to strengthen laws against distracted driving.

The House voted 106-29 on Thursday to make talking on a handheld cell phone while driving a primary offense. That means a police officer could pull a driver over, if observed talking on a cell phone.

Now, police can only ticket someone for driving while talking on a handheld cell phone if the driver has been pulled over for another offense. The fine under current law is $40 for a first offense, and points may not be assessed against the driver’s license unless the offense contributes to an accident.

The fine would be raised to a maximum of $500 under the bill, and points could be assessed.

The measure now goes to the Senate.

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