• New Laws Go Into Effect in Maryland Today

New Laws in Maryland for 2014

Starting today, a host of new laws go into effect in Maryland. These laws involve some controversial topics like, allowing visitors without proof of lawful status in this county the right to obtain driver’s licenses (non CDL) as well as ending the death penalty in Maryland.

Under the new law, illegal immigrants may obtain driver’s licenses:

The legislation would require Maryland to establish a second-class driver’s license, which applicants could obtain without a Social Security number or proof of lawful status.

Immigrants would have to show some form of identification, such as a birth certificate or passport. And to suggest long-term Maryland residency, senators added a requirement that applicants also provide two years of state income tax filings. State analysts, however, said there appeared to be nothing in the proposal restricting applicants from filing returns retroactively.

Other new laws include:

Seat-belt use: Requires all passengers, including those in the back seat, to wear seat belts.

Death penalty repeal: Replaces capital punishment with sentences of life without the possibility of parole. The measure does not apply to the five prisoners currently on death row.

Cyberbullying prohibition: Makes it a crime to harass a minor through the use of social media.

Medical marijuana: Allows qualified academic medical centers to distribute marijuana for medical purposes. A commission has been established to develop standards.

Designer drugs: Makes possession of designer drugs sometimes referred to as “K2/Spice” or “synthetic marijuana” a crime.

Defibrillators at pools: Requires public swimming pools to have defibrillators and staff trained to use them.

Shark fin possession: Prohibits possessing, selling or trading shark fins.

Campaign finance reform: Makes several changes in campaign finance law, including allowing legislative party caucus committees to raises money.

Guns

Controversial gun laws begin on Oct. 1 in Maryland. The new law requires safety training and fingerprinting to purchase a handgun and limits magazines to 10 rounds. A total of 45 assault weapons will be banned as well.

However, on the same day the new gun laws go into effect, a hearing is scheduled in an attempt to block them from being implemented. Ahead of the law, Maryland has experienced a massive influx of applications for licenses as people try to beat the legislation.

Cyberbullying

A cyberbullying law, also known as “Grace’s Law,” makes it a criminal offense to use an interactive computer service, like Twitter or Facebook, to cause “serious emotional distress on a minor” or causes the minor to fear for his or her life or physical safety.

Those found guilty of the misdemeanor offense face up to a year in prison in addition to a possible $500 fine.

The law is named after Grace McComas, a 15-year-old from Woodbine, Md., who committed suicide in 2012 after being bullied on Twitter.

In the car

In Maryland, using a handheld device while driving is already illegal. But on Oct. 1, it will which means drivers can get a ticket if they are using the phone, even if they are not breaking any other traffic rules. Until Oct. 1, it is a secondary offense, meaning that a driver must first be committing another offense, such as speeding or negligent driving.

“Police officers can and will be pulling people over just for talking on their hand-held cell phone device without a hands-free option,” says Montgomery County Police Captain Thomas Didone.

The fines for driver’s caught using cell phones are as follows:

•   $75 – first offense

•   $125 – second offense

•   $175 – third and subsequent offenses

An officer needs no other reason other than to watch somebody talking on the cellphone to pull them over and issue a citation. The first offense is $83 when factoring in court costs.

Another adjustment in the car is a seat belt law making it a primary offense to drive or be a passenger in the front seat without a seat belt. Drivers or passengers riding in a car in the front seat must wear a seat belt or face a $50 fine.

Since it’s a primary offense for people in front seats, a driver can be pulled over for only the seat belt offense. The fine doesn’t apply only to the driver; a passenger can be ticketed, too. If the passenger is younger than 16, the driver will get the ticket.

An unbuckled backseat passenger faces a $50 fine as well, but it’s a secondary offense.

Medical Marijuana

Allows the limited distribution of marijuana by some academic medical centers.