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Md. Senate passes bill to restrict teen drivers

March 04, 2004|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland Senate passed legislation Wednesday to prevent teenagers from driving with other, unrelated teens in the car.

For the first six months after getting their license, teens would not be able to carry passengers under 18 except family members. They would be subject to a maximum $500 fine.

The bill passed 38-8, with Washington County's senators split.

Changing his vote from last year, Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, voted in favor of the bill.

"These young people have a lifetime in which to drive. Six months of caution isn't going to hurt anything, and it may save some lives," he said.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, and Sen. John J. Hafer, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, voted against the bill.

Mooney argued it would hurt all families with teenagers just because of the actions of a few.

"I think we should trust parents to make these decisions," he said.

The law would put more teens on the roads, clogging the highways and spewing exhaust, he said.

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Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chairman Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery, said a practice driving session with his 16-year-old daughter convinced him the legislation is needed.

"It scared ... me. I don't want her on the road with her friends, with the radio on and the windows down, with any distractions at all," he said.

The Senate passed a similar bill last year, but it died in the House.

House Environmental Matters Committee Chairwoman Maggie L. McIntosh, D-Baltimore, said her committee will take a serious look at the bill this session, which ends April 12.

The committee also is reviewing a proposal to ban cell phone use by teen drivers.

On the Web:

SB 233

mlis.state.md.us

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