New Laws Make You MOVE ON OVER — & More
The 2019 Session of the Maryland State Legislature was still underway when this article was uploaded, so we thought it a good idea to bring everyone up-to-date on laws enacted in 2018, and their consequences.
Prior to October 1, 2018, Maryland Transportation Article 21-405 (e) required drivers, when driving past certain emergency vehicles, "if practicable and not otherwise prohibited and with due regard for safety and traffic conditions, make a lane change into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the stopped, standing, or parked vehicle."
But as of October 1, 2018, the law was been expanded to include, for the duty to move over, the following vehicles: • Trash collection trucks; • Any commercial motor vehicle providing emergency assistance to disabled vehicles; and • Service vehicles.
As with any other criminal or traffic offense, ignorance of the law is not a defense. Violation of this article incurs a maximum fine of $110 and 1 point on your driver's license. If the violation contributes to an accident that results in death or serious bodily injury, the penalty may increase to a $1000 fine and the suspension of your license to 180 days.
In addition to the "MOVE ON OVER" expansion, several new laws are in effect that apply to guns and gun violence: • A ban on "bump stocks" that can increase the firing rate of automatic weapons. • "Red flag" legislation that allows a court to issue an "extreme risk protective order" for gun seizure when a judge finds credible evidence that the gun owners are a danger to themselves or others. • Defendants convicted in domestic violence cases are now informed that they not may possess firearms, and are given a procedure for them to surrender their guns.
Many laws enacted last session deal with sexual harassment in the workplace, sexual misconduct, or sexual extortion (called "sextortion"): •  A new law explicitly prohibits using threats of shame or economic harm to coerce a person into having sex, closing a loophole in Maryland's extortion law that excluded sexual activity because it was not considered a thing of monetary value. The new law was prompted by people using the Internet to gain others' confidence and persuade them to provide increasingly more explicit photos, after which the "sextortionists" threaten to share the images, to coerce the victims — usually women — into appearing in pornographic films or performing sex acts. Such actions are now a misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The law takes in more than Internet activity; it also prohibits threats to cause emotional distress or economic harm, or to accuse the victims of committing crimes (for instance, threatening to call authorities about a person's immigration status), in order to coerce the victim into participation in pornography or sexual activity. •  A new law prohibits employers from imposing non-disclosure agreements on women reporting sexual harassment, and requires employers with fifty or more workers to disclose information about their records in maintaining harassment-free workplaces. •  A new law requires sexual harassment prevention training for state employees. •  A new law prohibits law enforcement officers from engaging in sexual activity with a person in their custody.
Several of the new laws are specifically meant to protect women: •  A new law requires the state to provide employees with appropriate places and time for them to pump breast milk. •  A new law requires prisons to adopt policies on how to deal with pregnant inmates and to inform them of the policies as soon as they test positive for pregnancy. •  A new law ensures that incarcerated women have access to sufficient and effective feminine hygiene products. •  A new law makes it easier for victims of domestic abuse to obtain permanent protective orders in cases where their assailants have been convicted of abusing them and imprisoned (of course this applies equally to men and women).
Other new laws address contemporary issues of importance: •  A new law requires the state to track suicides of current members of the military forces and of veterans. •  A new law expands victims' rights in college disciplinary actions over allegations of sexual assault. •  A new law bans so-called "gay conversion" therapy as a medical specialty.
Our next issue will cover laws enacted in the 2019 Maryland State Legislative Session, and their consequences.