Maryland defines distracted driving as any sensory or cognitive distraction that breaks your focus from the road while operating a vehicle. Sensory distractions can be visual, auditory, or manual. These distractions pose a danger to pedestrians, passengers, and drivers alike, which is why Maryland prohibits the use of handheld cell phones for drivers of all ages. In addition, drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use cell phones at all.

Distractions include:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Reading
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a CD player, radio, or MP3 player
  • Texting
  • Talking to passengers


  • Drivers of all ages are not allowed to use handheld cell phones
  • Drivers who are under 18 and have a learner’s permit or provisional license are not allowed to use a cell phone at all
  • Texting is illegal no matter what your age is or what type of license you have, which includes checking or sending messages at a red light

If you are over the age of 18, there are a few different options for using a cell phone while driving in the State of Maryland. Since you cannot use a handheld device, it is a good idea to invest in a car kit, Bluetooth, or a headset. These devices make it easier to use a voice activated system on your cell phone. Another option is to not use a cell phone at all while you are driving. If you put it out of sight, you will be less tempted to use it or look at it. It is wise to make your phone calls and texts before or after you arrive at your destination.

A police officer can pull you over for texting and driving without having seen you commit any other offense. They may issue you a ticket or citation with a fine attached.


  • Using a handheld phone while driving is $83 for the first offense
  • $140 for the second offense
  • $160 for the third offense
  • If you cause an accident while talking on your cell phone, you incur the fines above plus three points on your license

The State of Maryland has strict laws when it comes to using cell phones while driving. Make sure to have your hands free device set up and ready to go before you start driving if you plan to make or receive a phone call.

This article originally appeared on as Cell Phones and Texting: Distracted Driving Laws in Maryland.

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