Thursday, October 6, 2022

New Maryland Laws Effective October 1, 2022

Car Seat SafetyBeginning Oct. 1, all children's car seats must be installed rear-facing until the riders are at least two years old, unless a child meets or exceeds the height and weight on the seat's guidelines.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA ) says parents should keep their children rear-facing for as long as possible, as it's the safest position in a crash. "Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer," NHTSA said.

Car seat research shows that children up to 23 months old are about 75% less likely to die or sustain serious injury in a rear-facing car seat than in a forward-facing one because the force of the crash is spread more evenly across the back of the car seat and the child's body when they're rear-facing, according to Consumer Reports. Rear-facing also limits the motion of the head during a crash, reducing the potential for neck injuries and keeps the child more contained, Consumer Reports said.

Move Over Law: The Move Over Law in Maryland will now require drivers to make a lane change or slow down when approaching any stopped, standing or parked vehicle displaying warning signals – including hazard warning lights, road flares, or other caution signals including traffic cones, caution signs, or non-vehicular warning signs, according to the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Temporary Driver’s License: This law allows MDOT MVA to now issue a temporary driver’s license renewal for up to two years. Prior to this law MDOT MVA could only issue up to two 45-day extensions.

Slow Drivers Must Stay to the Right:  A new law states that anyone driving slower than the general speed of traffic on an interstate highway in a rural area must travel in the right-most lane. Signs will be posted on appropriate roads.

Green Flashing Lights:  Another new traffic safety law allows vehicles doing roadwork for the government to use green flashing lights to alert motorists to their presence.

No Driving in A Dedicated Bus Lane:  A new law makes it clear that you cannot drive in the dedicated bus lanes. The city government will be allowed to set up a monitoring system that takes pictures of vehicles in bus lanes, with violators subject to fines of up to $75. If you’re caught by a police officer, however, the fine is up to $500.

Limits on interrogating children:  When children are taken into police custody, officers will not be allowed to question or interrogate them until the child’s parent or guardian is notified and the child has a chance to speak with an attorney.  In the past, up to 90% of children waived their rights to an attorney “leaving them vulnerable to rights violations,” according to the ACLU of Maryland, which was among those who pushed for the measure. The ACLU estimates that children in custody, who often don’t have an attorney, give false confessions more than three times as often as adults.

Raising the age for marriage:  A new law raising the minimum marriage age to 17.  And 17-year-olds will face restrictions before they can marry: They must have permission from all living parents or guardians, or one of them must show proof of pregnancy or having given birth to a child.

A 17-year-old seeking to be married also must file a petition in court and be interviewed separately from their potential spouse and their parents or guardians before  a judge can authorize a marriage license. They would be counseled about domestic violence and sex trafficking, and if they’re marrying a legal adult, that person would be subject to a background check.

(Previously 15-year-olds could marry if they had permission from a parent or guardian and a female partner in the relationship was pregnant or had given birth; 16-year-olds could marry with parental permission or evidence of pregnancy or childbirth.)

Safety requirements for gun shops:  Firearms dealers must take additional safety precautions or risk losing their licenses.  Gun shops must have a burglar alarm, a video surveillance system and at least one of the following on their windows and doors: bars, grates, security screens or commercial-grade metal doors. When shops are closed, guns must be locked in a vault, safe or secure indoor room. If practicable, gun shops are directed to install barriers to prevent vehicles from being crashed into the building.  For a first violation, a firearms dealer could face a civil fine up to $1,000 and subsequent offenses could result in losing their state license.

Some counties, including Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County, already have security requirements for gun shops. Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. told lawmakers earlier this year that the law includes “common-sense policies to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals.”

‘End the Wait’ for people needing services:  The End the Wait Act directs the state health department to come up with plans to cut in half its waitlists of children and adults needing services for intellectual or developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, autism and other medical conditions.

Tens of thousands of people are on multiple waitlists for services such as therapy and in-home care. Some children are waiting so long that they get too old for the services that they’re on the waitlist for..

Under the bill, the Maryland Department of Health must have a plan to get at least half of wait-listed Marylanders into the programs by 2024. Starting that year, the governor is required to put “sufficient funds” in the state budget to pay for expanding the programs.

Cats and Dogs:  A new law that nearly bans the practice, which animal welfare advocates say is cruel and inhumane. The only exception: Licensed veterinarians can declaw a cat if it’s “necessary for a therapeutic purpose.”    

The new law also limits the length of time you can keep your pup outside in extreme weather to 30 minutes. If it’s 90 degrees or hotter, the dog must have shelter or shade to remain outside longer, and if it’s 32 degrees or colder, the dog must have shelter

And when fire and rescue dogs are retired, fire departments will be allowed to reimburse adopters up to $2,500 per year for the dogs’ veterinary bills.