Maryland House OKs strengthening distracted driving law

      ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland House of Delegates has passed a measure to strengthen laws against distracted driving.

      The House voted 106-29 on Thursday to make talking on a handheld cell phone while driving a primary offense. That means a police officer could pull a driver over, if observed talking on a cell phone.

      Now, police can only ticket someone for driving while talking on a handheld cell phone if the driver has been pulled over for another offense. The fine under current law is $40 for a first offense, and points may not be assessed against the driver's license unless the offense contributes to an accident.

      The fine would be raised to a maximum of $500 under the bill, and points could be assessed.

      The measure now goes to the Senate.