Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New MD Law Bans Cell Phone Use While Driving

Effective October 1, using a hand-held cell phone while operating a motor vehicle on a street or highway in Maryland is prohibited.  Phone calls placed to 911, ambulance, hospital, fire or law-enforcement agencies are permitted, as are calls made by emergency and law-enforcement personnel.

NOTE:  Drivers under the age of 18 already are prohibited from using cell phones while driving.

The fine for the first offense is $40 and subsequent offenses are $100.  Points are not assessed to the first-time violator's driving record, except three points are assessed if the violation contributes to a crash.  If a violator has a second or subsequent offense, he or she receives one point plus the fine.

The new law is a secondary offense -- a driver must first be detained for another offense, such as speeding or negligent driving, before he or she can be ticketed for a cell phone offense.  Negligent driving IS a primary offense in Maryland and can be used as a precursor to citing violators of the new cell phone law.

The National Safety Council estimates that cell phone use is responsible for 1.6 million crashes a year, nationally -- about 28 percent of all crashes.

Maryland one of several states (Calif., Conn., Del., N.J., N.Y., Ore. and Wash.), Washington D.C. and the Virgin Islands that have banned hand-held cell phone use while driving. For more information, please visit

Thursday, September 23, 2010

2010 Maryland Natural Resource Photo Contest

More than 170 photographers entered 850 photographs in the 2010 Maryland Natural Resource Photo Contest. Debbie MacArthur of Ellicott City took overall top honors with her wildlife photograph, Chipmunk, of a chipmunk perched on a flowering tree.

There were five additional first place winners, including Chuck Durfor of Rockville (Burnside Bridge) in the Scenic category; Larry Hitchens of Easton (Belted King Fisher) in the Bird category; Christine Edwards of Annapolis (Rounding the Red Buoy) in the Outdoor Recreation category; Lori R. Bramble of Cambridge (The Sweet Smell of Pollen) in the Insect category; and Lee Swantkowski of Kensington (Lotus) in the Plants category.

MacArthur will receive the grand prize of $500, a 2011 Maryland State Park Passport, a lifetime subscription to the Maryland Natural Resource magazine and five copies of the 2011 DNR Calendar, which will feature the winning photo on the cover.

First place winners in each category will receive a Maryland State Park Passport, a two year subscription to the Maryland Natural Resource magazine and two copies of the 2011 DNR Calendar. Second place winners will receive a one-year subscription to the magazine and a calendar.

The winning photos will appear in the winter issue of The Maryland Natural Resource Magazine, as well as the 2011 DNR calendar. The Maryland Natural Resource magazine is published quarterly by DNR.