Maryland Bans Hand-Held Phone Use by Some State Workers

An executive order signed May 21 by Gov. Martin O'Malley will take effect when the Department of Budget and Management completes a draft cell phone policy.

An executive order signed May 21 by the governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley, will bar the state's executive branch employees from using hand-held cell phones while they drive a state vehicle, The Baltimore Sun reported. Two days earlier, O'Malley signed bills that increased penalties against drunken drivers and implemented speed cameras in highway work zones.

The safety legislation he signed was recommended by a state Task Force to Combat Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol, which was established in 2007. The recommendations signed into law by O'Malley include a provision barring a court from granting Probation Before Judgment to someone who violated the impaired driving statutes if the person had been convicted of, or granted PBJ for, such an offense within the past 10 years. Also signed was a requirement that the state Motor Vehicle Administration impose one year of mandatory suspension of the driver's license or an ignition interlock on anyone who has been convicted more than once within a five-year period of DWI, driving while impaired by alcohol, or driving while impaired by drugs.

The order announced a "Be a Driving Force for Safety" program for state employees, with each executive agency's leader asked to encourage employees to take a driving improvement program, comply with current seat belt laws, and participate in National Drive Safely Work Week each October and other educational opportunities throughout the year.

The newspaper reported O'Malley's executive order will take effect when the Department of Budget and Management completes a draft cell phone policy. The state has about 79,000 employees, "the vast majority in the executive branch," but the governor's office did not have the number of workers who drive state-owned vehicles, according to the report.

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