Do you still use your cell phone while you drive? MD state police has a message for you – be very careful.

Starting tomorrow, you may get a hefty ticket of  $40 – $100 for using your cell while driving without using a hands free device such as a blue-tooth.

The State passed the lawback in April this year. The state joins the District, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington in requiring that drivers use hands-free devices. It was later signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley.

The law has caused a rise of sales of blue tooth and hands-free devices for many retailers in recent weeks.

There is a caveat to the new law – violating the ban is a secondary offense, meaning a person will only be ticketed if they are pulled over for something else. This has caused some criticism among some attorneys on the effectiveness of the law. However, be advised that “negligent driving” is a primary offense in Maryland and can be used as a precursor to citing violators of the new cell phone law.

You can however place Phone calls to 9-1-1, ambulance, hospital, fire, or law enforcement agencies. The fine for a first offense would be $40 and subsequent offenses would be $100.  Points will not be assessed to the first-time violator’s driving record, except, three points are assessed if the violation contributed to a crash.  One point is assessed for a second or subsequent offense.

Also note that Maryland also bans texting while driving.  This law prohibits an individual from writing or sending a text message while operating a motor vehicle that is in motion or in the travel portion of the highway. If convicted of violating this law a person may be assessed a fine not exceeding $500. This law does not apply to texting 9-1-1 or using a global positioning system.