Del. Malone Focuses On Making Cell Phone Use a Primary Offense

Democratic delegate says making the use of hand-held devices by drivers a primary offense will make current law more effective.


One Day after the National Transportation Safety Board recommended states ban all cell phone use in vehicles, one delegate from Baltimore County said a lesser approach may be more effective.

Del. James Malone, an Arbutus Democrat, said Wednesday that he has pre-filed a bill that would make the use of hand-held cell phones in vehicles a primary offense.

Currently, Maryland law prohibits the use of hand-held phones, but makes the offense secondary, which means police must pull the driver over for another offense before the driver can be cited for using the cell phone.

Texting while operating a vehicle is a primary offense.

"My bill is not as stringent as the federal recommendations," said Malone, who chairs the House Motor Vehicle and Transportation Subcommittee. "Mine says you need to be hands free.

"My number one priority is if you do not have the phone in your hands, you can not text," said Malone.

The five-term delegate said he had no plans to file a bill implementing a complete ban on cell phone use as recommended by the NTSB.

Malone sponsored one of the bills that created current law. Last year, he sponsored a bill making the use of a hand-held cellular device by drivers a primary offense. That bill died in a Senate committee.

Malone acknowledged that current law is not effective and said he has seen examples of people using their hand-held phones almost daily.

"I think the law is not effective because people know what a secondary offense is," said Malone. "I think once it's a primary offense, you'll see people going to Bluetooth and what have you."

Malone said he also plans on filing a bill instituting penalties for distracted driving. The idea for the bill came from Malone's personal experience, including an incident in which he encountered a woman driving on I-97 doing 40 mph in the left lane.

"She had four dogs in her lap," said Malone. "I think one of the dogs was driving. Clearly if you have four dogs in your lap, you're distracted."

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Dkennylee December 14, 2011 at 08:09 PM
@ bruce how about the breathalizer ? a device that has no holder that hangs in your car , goes of when ever it feels like it, while you are driving ,you have to look down to find it ! then blow in it. even if you are stone sober "no drinks at all" and blow in it wrong it will cause your lights to flash horn to beep then then it will shut the car down!!! no power brakes no power steering. is that not a danger to other people ?? while you are at it. make a law about eating,puting on make up, masterbating, turning the radio, set cruze control ,heat,looking at your gps???!!!!! when does it stop
Bruce Goldfarb December 14, 2011 at 08:15 PM
I've never driven a car equipped with such a device, Dkennylee. You must have a fancy import.
Bart December 14, 2011 at 08:17 PM
How many times have you been on the beltway and the person in front of you begins to slow down, weaves within his lane, and travels so slow that you must pass him? Then, he speeds up to make up for lost time. Look into that car - yes s/he's using a cell phone. They might very well be dangerous, but they certainly are annoying. Traffic is bad enough already. I'm not sure that it should be a primary offense, but I think it is distracted driving. Maybe we should push for a stronger use for the law that is already on the books, rather than create a new one. I know I can't talk on the phone and drive responsibly. And I'll admit it.
Bart December 14, 2011 at 08:19 PM
...or a DUI.
Buzz Beeler December 14, 2011 at 08:20 PM
It stops when people start make some sense and act responsibly Alluding to masturbating is not exactly making sense. I would be curious if you have knowledge of the breath test device on a personal level. If there is a defect it should be investigated. The key word here is reasonable. You might have taken a peak at the link. The issues with motor vehicles, injuries, death, and the fiscal cost to society are rather significant as they say.
Robert Armstrong December 14, 2011 at 08:34 PM
If it truly is a dangerous practice then there should be no exemptions from the law.
Dkennylee December 14, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Yes about 8 years ago I had this device...I no longer drink. one of my wifes co workers has one of these in hes car.. its no defect, his does this too... dont take my word for it I you look up problems with breath test, you will find that more rear ends happened when they started installliing these devices.but when there is money to be made saftey doesnt seem to matter, in maryland, as to masturbating ..Im just saying alot of people do stupid things while driving....are we going to make it a law that you cant do all these things while we are driving.. ...it seems silly
Gomer Pyle December 14, 2011 at 08:46 PM
eww....I think he's guilty of more than DUI, how about indecent exposure!
Dkennylee December 14, 2011 at 08:56 PM
I agree but I dont here anything about women puting on make up and driving down the freeway lol I just dont think every detail about what is safe to do while driving should be a law
Dkennylee December 14, 2011 at 08:57 PM
@ gomer pyle really??
Robert Armstrong December 14, 2011 at 09:04 PM
I saw a fat lady on the Beltway eating Chik-fil-a while she was driving today. You don't think for one minute she wasn't distracted!!
Dkennylee December 14, 2011 at 09:11 PM
I agree lol but are you really gonna make that a law "fat women cant eat while driving"?
JDStuts December 15, 2011 at 01:47 AM
Are you really so concerned with dying that you can't see the fact that your whole existence is being commandeered but a bunch of local pols focused on keeping their gravy train flowing than "public safety"? Start living like a free man. Hell, start acting like a man. Life is tough, bad things happen. Pretending that Del. Malone is your mom who will make everything fair and award participation trophies isn't going to change a thing. Other than making you more of a sheep of course. Drinking and driving? Really, that's where you went? Good Christ your father must have been p-whipped.
Buzz Beeler December 15, 2011 at 02:06 AM
Dkennylee, I give you credit for having the courage to share that. Eight years is good. I quite in 72.
Robert Armstrong December 15, 2011 at 04:07 AM
You can take the alcohol out of a fruitcake but you still have a fruitcake.
Buzz Beeler December 15, 2011 at 04:57 AM
W.C. Fields - "Go away boy, you bother me."
Chuck December 15, 2011 at 05:00 AM
Fine Jim, but make it inclusive of ALL operators of motor vehicles, WHILE USING ANY ELECTRONIC DEVICES THAT HAVE A DISPLAY SCREEN, HANDHELD OR NOT, no exceptions for Law Enforcement, Fire or EMS .PERIOD!
Michael Ernest December 15, 2011 at 04:34 PM
I do not use my cell phone while driving - ever! The people that object to this law are most likely the worst offenders. I personally have had too many close calls because of a driver using a cell phone especially on curves in the road where at least once I was run off onto a shoulder. I support this law as a primary offense. The usual comments about other distracted drivers like holding those dogs, eating, applying makeup boils down to a matter of statistics-how many traffic accidents are caused by these other distractions compared to cell phone use which has proliferated since the invention of this technology. I think anyone who has caused a serious injury or death due to the use of a cell phone should face the same penalty as driver under the influence of alcohol. The first such death I heard about years ago that was directly due to a cell phone call happened on the capital beltway when a husband and wife in separate vehicles were talking to each other. The wife was killed. i certainly would not want to be that husband who was on the other end of the conversation! I would not want to be responsible for the injury or death of someone because I was distracted. To the detractors - what did you do before cell phones were invented? Most likely if you had an urgent call-you would have stopped and found a telephone booth. A frivolous call most likely would not be made. The law does not mean you cannot make a call from your vehicle, you just can't do it while driving.
Michael Ernest December 15, 2011 at 04:52 PM
Spoken like someone who has his ear glued to a cell phone. I feel free when I do not have to worry about nut cases like you. This law has no negative effect on me as I have the good sense not to use my cell phone while driving and if I have to make a call I will pull over somewhere and stop. The NSTB has recommended banning cell phone use nationwide for the sake of public safety. It is persons like you that cannot accept the fact that cell phone use while driving has proliferated to the point where it is a serious threat to public safety. Wise up!
Tim December 15, 2011 at 07:20 PM
The only reason we need anything resembling 'a nanny state' is because people left to their own devices are irresponsible. No, we aren't approaching critical mass in legislating. The only things this country is reaching a critical mass on is ignorance and selfishness. Put the phone down. Drive your car. Trust me Maryland, you collective drive badly enough without the phone use.
Tim December 15, 2011 at 07:24 PM
No, she's eaten so much food I suspect she doesn't need to look at it to eat it. Practice makes perfect...right?
Tim December 15, 2011 at 07:25 PM
Bart: If it's not a primary offense, it'll never be enforced properly. I think you know this, deep down. That was why I laughed when the current law went into place. Everyone with foresight knew this was a waste of time. Although I agree that if there's an existing law on this, it should be better implemented - and updated if necessary.
JDStuts December 16, 2011 at 01:51 AM
When people like Michael Ernest respond on The Patch I understand how people like Del Malone get elected. Hey dumbass, I wasn't advocating for cell phone use - I was advocating for personal responsiblity. You of course claim you can't live in peace until Mommy has rounded off all the sharp corners and put your hockey helmet on. Please tell me you aren't breeding. Your daughters are probably more man than you.
Bart December 16, 2011 at 02:53 AM
Tim, you're right of course. And I agree something must be done. But I do think that strictly enforcing the existing laws would be easier, and they CAN do it. It is certainly a more productive attempt than that seat belt enforcement. There was once a State Trooper who posted himself at the Lutherville roundabout, waving over people without seatbelts. Caused quite a bottleneck at rush hour!
Dkennylee December 16, 2011 at 05:55 AM
Hey robert armstrong .really im a fruit cake ? Really thats all you got is name calling anyway to everyone here over 8 I dont text and drive because I cant with out being all over the road not because of a law. And yes once in a while on the free way ill take a call and drive fine but looking for a cd to put in radio all over the road. Is there a law about radios?
Dkennylee December 16, 2011 at 06:18 AM
Oh and buzz thanks I was born in 73 so ya know I partyed the parta out of me the dwi was a . 09 lol 2 beers I dont agree but ya pay to play or dui which ever it was then just saying
Buzz Beeler December 16, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Dkennylee, thanks for the kind remarks. I admire someone that has to courage to be truthful. Conversations, debates, disagreements do not have to degenerate into childish name calling. People who have not walked the walk have no idea about how much fortitude it takes to make a life change. For me every day was like building a house, one more nail, one more brick and when it starts to take shape why tear it down. I was proud of not only that, but another issue I dealt with when I quit smoking in the early 80's. That took me four tries before I made the break. It was easier to quit drinking. For me, it was about a lifestyle and perception change. I tried to equate the smoking with the negatives; yellow teeth and fingers, stained walls and windows, draperies that yellowed. The booze issue was about making a fool of yourself. Got tired of that.
Michael Ernest December 16, 2011 at 07:10 PM
I rest my case as to any comment I made in a reply to JDSTUTS or whatever this person's real name is. At least I am man enough to use my full name to engage in "free" speech and express my views and reasons therefore. But frankly my dear whether I have daughters or not and for whom I vote is none of your damn business. if you cannot engage in discourse without disparaging remarks about one's family and political bent, it would show "self responsibility" for you to choose some other venue to express yourself.
Buzz Beeler December 16, 2011 at 10:59 PM
Michael, I've been saying that for as long as I've been on this site. After a while you feel like you're talking to yourself. I always respect a person who has the courage to use their real name because it holds them to a certain standard of accountability. It's easy to use a pseudonym and throw rocks because you'll never get caught. Me, I'll keep driving the high road.
Dkennylee December 17, 2011 at 01:50 AM
@ buzz beeler ..amen!


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