Traffic Laws


Seat Belt Laws in Maryland

Effective October 1, 2013, Maryland has a primary seat belt law for front seat occupants AND a secondary seat belt law for back seat occupants.

Tickets can be issued to drivers and front seat passengers even if no other violation is observed.

Each person that is not buckled up (driver and passenger) may receive a ticket (including court costs) of $83 for not wearing a seatbelt.

In the case where any passenger under the age of 16 years of age is not buckled up, the driver may receive a ticket for each offense. For instance, if a driver is stopped and not wearing a seat belt, and a passenger under the age of 16 is also not restrained, the driver may receive an adult seat belt ticket (including court costs) of $83 for himself and a ticket (including court costs) of $83 for the passenger.


If you have a disability that makes it unsafe or impossible to wear a seat belt, you must carry a statement from your physician in your vehicle at all times.


Maryland Child Car Seat Requirements

Maryland’s child safety seat law requires that all children under 8 years old be secured in a federally approved child safety seat according to the safety seat and vehicle manufacturers’ instructions, unless the child is 4 feet, 9 inches or taller. The child restraint must be right for the child’s size, age, and weight.

Child safety seats include: infant seats, convertible seats, forward-facing seats, booster seats, or other safety devices federally approved for use by children in motor

NOTE: Maryland’s child safety seat law does not prohibit front seat riding. The lone exception to this comes into play when placing a rear-facing child in a front seat with an active air bag.

Maryland’s Cell Phone Use Ban

Effective October 1, 2013, Maryland’s cell phone law now prohibits a driver from using a handheld cell phone while a motor vehicle is in motion.

This is a primary offense. Law enforcement officers can stop a driver solely for using a handheld cell phone. No other offense is needed.

Drivers will receive a fine (including court costs) of:

$ 83 – first offense

$140 – second offense

$160 – third & subsequent offense


Cell phone restrictions:

  • All learner permit and provisional license holders and anyone younger than 18 years old are banned from all wireless communication device usage.

Texting restrictions:

  • Texting is banned for all drivers, regardless of age or license status. This includes checking and sending texts while stopped at a red light.


Maryland Bicycle, Motorcycle, and ATV Helmet Laws

If you’re:

  • Riding on a bicycle under 16 years old, you must wear a helmet.
  • Riding a motorcycle you must wear protective headgear, regardless of your age.
  • Riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), wearing a helmet is entirely up to you.


Headlight Laws in Maryland

When driving in Maryland, you must turn on your headlights whenever the light, weather, or other atmospheric conditions makes it difficult to see people or vehicles 1,000 feet away from you.

You must also turn on your headlights if the weather makes it necessary for you to use your windshield wipers.


Unattended Motor Vehicles

Whenever you leave your motor vehicle unattended in Maryland, you must:

  • Stop the engine.
  • Lock the ignition.
  • Remove the key.
  • Set the brake.
  • Turn the front wheels to the curb, if you’re parked on a grade.


Unattended Children and pets


It’s no secret that leaving a young child unattended in a motor vehicle is dangerous. It puts the child’s life at risk (especially in extreme hot and cold temperatures) and, because of a child’s curiosity with buttons, pedals, and gears, it puts others’ lives at risk, too.

The MVA recommends contacting your local law enforcement if you feel a child is in danger due to being unattended in a motor vehicle.


It’s unsafe to leave a pet unattended in a motor vehicle for the same reasons that it is unsafe to leave a child unattended. In fact, unless the animal is working with the police or is in an animal control officer’s custody, it’s illegal.

If you do leave a pet unattended, a number of people are allowed to use reasonable force to remove the animal from the vehicle, including law enforcement officers, public safety employees, and animal control officers.


Leaving Your Vehicle Running Unattended is Illegal

Baltimore County Police would like to remind drivers to never leave their vehicle unattended with the engine running and keys in the ignition. It not only leaves your car at risk to be stolen, but it is also illegal.

Vehicles left running outside homes, in front of convenience stores and at gas pumps present an easy target for car thieves. Always take your keys with you and secure your vehicle, even for a short trip into the store.

When the weather gets colder, drivers may want to leave their vehicle running to warm up the engine, but should never leave it unattended while doing so.

Maryland Annotated Vehicle Code prohibits an operator of a vehicle to leave a vehicle running and unattended unless the operator:

  • is in charge of a motor vehicle that has had the engine started using a remote keyless ignition system and has been operating unattended for up to five consecutive minutes when the vehicle is not in motion; or
  • allows a motor vehicle that is locked and on private property, not open to the public, to operate unattended for up to five consecutive minutes when the vehicle is not in motion.

It’s The Law

Did you know that leaving a vehicle alone with the engine running is against the law? Officers can issue a ticket that is accompanied by a $70 fine and one point against your driving record. Unattended, running vehicles also pose a safety hazard. If the vehicle slips out of gear and causes an accident, you could be issued a ticket with a $110 fine and three points against your driving record.

Make sure your vehicle doors are locked at all times, spare keys are not left in the vehicle and the vehicle is not left running unattended.


Finding Maryland’s Safety Laws

Safety laws may change without notice, so it’s wise to know where you can go for updated information. The following resources include information about Maryland’s safety laws or information about how to find specific safety laws.

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