Advertisement

Crossing the state line could mean crossing the law

October 21, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

When you live so close to state lines, like Tri-State-area residents do, it's not uncommon to be driving in a state other than the one in which you make your home.

Some drivers probably think nothing of it, but states and Washington, D.C., have traffic laws with their own idiosyncrasies, and it's better to know what they are than to plead ignorance.

Ignorance of the law is not a defense for disobeying the law, said Sgt. Arthur Betts, public information officer for Maryland State Police's headquarters in Pikesville, Md.

Some states post signs at the state line noting its traffic laws, but it's the driver's responsibility to know the traffic laws for the state he or she is driving through, Betts said.

Advertisement

Betts and state police officials with other nearby states said it's at the officer's discretion whether to issue a citation or a warning.

"Definitely, you'll know (the law) from that point on," Betts said.

The following are samples of traffic laws for five regional states and Washington, D.C.

Laws in Pennsylvania

· To make it safer for emergency crews actively working on the side of the road, a law requires drivers to try to move over to the other lane if they can safely do so. This applies to an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance, police car, firetruck or tow truck, said Trooper Scott Roussell with the Chambersburg barrack of Pennsylvania State Police.

· All occupants in a vehicle must be wearing their seat belt. The driver can be cited for any passengers not wearing a seat belt.

· The left lane is for passing only.

· When it's raining and you need to use your windshield wipers, your headlights must be on.

· Headlights must be on in construction zones.

In Maryland:

· Everyone in a front seat and anyone younger than 16, regardless of where they sit, must wear a seat belt, said Sgt. Arthur Betts, public information officer for Maryland State Police.

· Children younger than 4 years old or weighing 40 pounds or less must be in a child-safety seat. State police recommend safety seats be on the back seat.

· If you use your windshield wipers, your headlights must be on.

In West Virginia:

· If an emergency vehicle is stopped on the shoulder of the road, drivers are to reduce speed and move to the opposite side of the road if they can safely do so, said Sgt. Tom Kearns, commander of the Martinsburg detachment for West Virginia State Police. On a two-lane road, simply reduce speed.

· Any object, including snow or ice, that isn't secured and flies off the moving vehicle causing a traffic hazard or damage can result in a traffic citation and fine.

· All occupants must wear a seat belt. The driver can be cited for any passengers not wearing a seat belt, no matter their age.

· When it's raining, windshield wipers and headlights must be on.

In Virginia:

· Radar detectors are illegal in Virginia, said Sgt. Terry Licklider, Virginia State Police's public information officer for Northern Virginia. It's not enough to have a radar detector turned off or unplugged. It must not be accessible to the driver or any passenger, so detectors should be placed in the back seat or trunk. A detector on the dash, attached to the sun visor or under the driver's seat is considered accessible.

· Drivers younger than 18 cannot talk on a cell phone when driving.

· Children as old as 8 have to be in a child safety seat or wearing a seat belt.

· Front-seat occupants must wear a seat belt.

· If windshield wipers are on, headlights must be on.

· If an emergency vehicle is on the side of the road, drivers must move over to the other lane if they can safely do so. If they cannot, they must slow down.

· Everyone on a motorcycle must wear a helmet.

· License plates cannot be covered with colored plastic because it makes it difficult to read the plate.

· The front windshield and front side windows can be tinted up to 20 percent. The rear windshield and rear side windows can be tinted up to 50 percent.

In Washington, D.C.:

· Cannot talk on the phone when driving unless using a hands-free device, said Officer Josh Aldiva, spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department.

· All occupants in a vehicle must have their seat belts fastened.

· When it's raining, windshield wipers and headlights must be on.

In New Jersey:

· Cannot talk on the phone when driving unless using a hands-free device, said Sgt. Jeanne Hengemuhle with New Jersey State Police's Office of Public Information.

· Keep right except to pass.

· If windshield wipers are on, headlights must be on.

· Driver and any front-seat passengers younger than 18 must wear their seat belts.

· If snow or ice dislodges from a noncommercial vehicle while it's moving and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian causing injury or property damage, the driver of the vehicle can be fined $200 to $1,000 for each offense, according to state law.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|