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Two new state laws became effective on October 1, 2013, that will change how people drive in Maryland.

Seat Belt and Child Safety Seat Use

An expanded seat belt law dictates that everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt including all back seat passengers.

Also included is the provision that all children under eight years old and under 57 inches tall must be secured into a child safety seat, regardless of their weight. These are both secondary offenses. So a police officer must have some other primary reason for stopping you. But, citations can be costly – up to $50 for each unrestrained person inside the vehicle at the time.

Hand Held Mobile Phones

Starting on October 1st, holding a cell phone in hand to talk while driving is no longer a secondary offense and the police may perform a traffic stop for no other reason than seeing you holding a phone while driving. Although Maryland became a hands-free state in 2010, it was then a secondary offense to drive with a cell phone in hand, meaning that a driver could not be pulled over exclusively for talking on a hand held phone. To be able to ticket for a secondary offense, a police officer would have had to have some other primary reason to pull you over.

Now, drivers who are ticketed for using a handheld phone will face a fine of $75 for a first offense, with second and third offenses coming with fines of $125 and $175, respectively.

Auto Insurance Tip

If you have not done so recently, this might be a perfect time to contact your insurance agent to review your auto insurance policy. This assures that you will have the best coverage at the best rate available as you take to the road.

Here at the Daniel Howley Insurance Agency, we are always available to help you explore your auto insurance options.  Why not contact us at your convenience?

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Maryland’s highest ranked area on the NICB’s Hot Spot list of vehicle thefts is the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson area, ranking 93rd with 6,736 thefts in 2012.

Now Maryland is offering assistance to its residents who want to take steps to protect against auto theft. Any Maryland resident who is concerned about the rate of vehicle theft in their area and who does not typically drive their vehicle between 1AM and 5AM may now take advantage of the state’s “Watch Your Car” Program. This program is aimed at preventing vehicle theft and apprehending auto thieves.

To participate, you would register your vehicle for this program with the Maryland State Police. You will then receive decals to be placed on both the front and rear windows of the vehicle. Having these decals in place gives officers permission to stop the car to verify whether the driver is the actual owner or an owner-authorized driver. The “Watch Your Car” program is free public service administered by the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council; and, once registered, you may opt out at any time.

Learn more about the Watch your Car Program

Auto Insurance Tip

What sort of insurance protection do you have in the event your car is stolen? If you don’t know the details, you will want to check with your insurance agent to be sure that your vehicles are fully covered for theft and other claims by your current Auto Insurance policy. Auto theft can happen to anyone even if precautions are taken.

Here at the Daniel Howley Insurance Agency in Rockville, MD, we pleased to answer all your auto insurance questions and assist you with a review of your policy to be sure that you have the coverage and rates that best benefit you. Why not contact our office at your convenience to speak with a professional insurance agent who can help?



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