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General Assembly passed numerous effective driving laws

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on July 09, 2003:

Senator Dyson This General Assembly Session was a good year for new and improved traffic laws some of which I would like to highlight in this letter.

For the past few Sessions, the General Assembly has reversed its course of casting a blind eye towards proposed drunk driving legislation. I’m pleased to see that my colleagues are starting to take drunk driving more seriously than they have in the past.

One of the strongest drunk driving laws that passed into law was called “John’s Law” named after a Naval Academy graduate who was killed by a driver who had been arrested three hours prior to the fatal accident on another drunk driving charge then was released into the custody of a friend. The friend then preceded to let the still-drunk driver back into his car. From there, the driver killed young John Elliott.

John’s Law prohibits a person who has been arrested for a drunk or drugged driving offense from driving within 12 hours after the arrest. The violator of this law is subject to a maximum fine of $400, imprisonment up to two months and a maximum fine of eight points on their driver’s license.

Another good drunk driving bill addresses the problem of repeat offenders. Senate Bill 405, which also passed required a mandatory period of imprisonment instead of community service for repeat offenders who are convicted of driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol.

Now, don’t think about driving away from an establishment that sells gasoline without paying for it. Senate bill 282 allows the Motor Vehicle Administration to suspend an individuals driver’s license for up to 30 days for failure to pay for gas.

One bill that did pass the General Assembly, but was mercifully killed by the governor’s veto would have allowed for speed monitoring cameras. It would have allowed state and local law enforcement agencies to issue warnings or tickets to vehicle owners for speeding more than 10 miles per hour above the posted speed limit based on recorded images collected by “speed” cameras. While some cited this as a safety issue, I voted against it for several reasons. I was never assured that the technology would be accurate and that some one would be ticketed who wasn’t actually speeding.

Another reason I voted against the bill is the same reason I oppose red light cameras. It is a case of too much “Big Brother” in our lives. We’ve got to much of those type of regulations in place already. We don’t need more.

Speaking of red light cameras, a bill I did vote for that passed and was signed into law addresses a complaint I have heard from many residents who have received tickets for allegedly running red lights because of a “fast yellow” light.

Senate Bill 193 will standardize the operation of red light cameras by requiring the agency that monitors the system to ensure that the length of time that a yellow light is displayed before changing to a red light is set in accordance with regulations adopted the State Highway Administration.

So while I still don’t like red light cameras, this makes them less onerous and more accurate than they were before.

By passing these laws, the Maryland General Assembly most likely make our roads safer, speed cameras were defeated and the red light cameras will no longer to nab drivers caught in the process of going through a “fast” yellow light.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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