On Oct. 1, new laws went into effect in the state of Maryland. They range from regulations of objects hanging from rear view mirrors to rape and Health Department changes. Here are some of the most important new laws Marylanders should be aware of this fall.
Drivers will no longer be able to have any object, material or obstruction hanging from their vehicle’s rear view mirror. Police cannot pull drivers over for this offense alone, but it can be added to a ticket if a driver is pulled over for another offense. These objects includes handicap hangtags and personal accessories.
This change can impact many college students, especially those whose college or university require a hangtag for entrance or parking. Students will have to be more diligent regarding their vehicles moving forward.
Protection for those who ride bicycles are also increasing. Cyclists will now have the same protections as pedestrians when using crosswalks, making riding a bike much safer.
Along similar lines, changes to criminal laws in connection with vehicles are forthcoming. The maximum sentence for a homicide while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) has been increased from three to five years. This particularly refers to vehicular homicides, with the increase in driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) deaths in recent years. This stiffer sentence was created in hopes to deter offenders from making poor decisions that could put others in danger.
Sex crime charges also face changes this fall. The first change impacts victims of sex crimes. Victims are no longer required to show evidence of physical resistance to prove that a crime has been committed. Additionally, all first and second-degree sex offenses will now be called first and second-degree rape. These changes are meant to empower victims of these crimes and allow for quicker, more efficient prosecution of the perpetrators.
Additionally, some changes are occurring within the health department and its reporting processes. Certain people may receive directory information, such as whether an individual is present at a health care facility in connection with mental health services. This change occurred after a parent could not find his son, who suffers from psychosis, for months after a hospital transferred him. Art therapists are now able to receive reimbursements through some insurance plans, which is significant as they continue to serve those with mental health challenges.
Some of these changes may directly or indirectly affect students and the community around them. Ignorance of the law is never a suitable defense and the changes ultimately have been made to benefit Maryland citizens. Those who have questions or need more information as it relates to any of these changes, head to www.maryland.gov to find out more.