Is It Down to the Wire?

You’ve doubtless seen articles and social media posts about the release of the new iPhone 7.  One of the most talked about features is the lack of a headphone jack and the new AirPods (wireless earbuds).   Companies are trying to keep up with the demand for the newest and best technology and most consumers prefer wireless.

Convenience and technological advancements aside.  An often overlooked law is the fact that in Maryland it is illegal to drive with earphones in both ears or headphones covering both ears.  The Maryland Transportation Article Section 21-1120  says you “may not drive a motor vehicle on any highway…in this State” while wearing over or in both ears a headset or earphones attached to a radio, tape player, or other audio device.

Some may want to argue what the term “attached” means.  Does there have to be a physical attachment by the use of wired headsets or earphones?  Is it okay if you use wireless earphones or headsets and have both ears covered?

The answer is “no.”  The use of bluetooth or wireless headphones or earbuds in both ears is a violation of Maryland law and punishable by a fine of $45.00 and 1 point on your license.

The rationale behind this law is that having both ears covered prevents you from giving full focus and attention to driving.  Some experts have even referred to it as a form of sensory deprivation while operating a motor vehicle.  In 2015, Maryland had 520 traffic fatalities.  This was nearly a 20% increase from 2014 and ended a downward trend in traffic fatalities in Maryland from 2007-2014  (30% decrease from 2007-14).  Nationwide, there were 38,300 traffic fatalities in 2015.  This represented an 8% increase from 2014.

Understandably, police are continuing to crack down on distracted driving and the lack of a wire from your headset or earphones to your phone won’t save you from a ticket, a point on your license and a possible court appearance.  There is no need to make the road anymore of a dangerous place than it is already.  The next life you save by reducing your distractions while driving could be your own.

Maryland Judge Sentenced to Probation

If you’ve ever appeared in front of a judge, especially if you’re not an attorney, it can be a little intimidating. However, one Maryland judge took things a bit too far.

Judge Robert C. Nalley, a former Charles County Circuit Court judge, pleaded guilty in February of 2016 to charges that he violated the civil rights of a criminal defendant when he ordered a deputy sheriff to physically shock the defendant, who was wearing a “stun-cuff” at the time.

On July 23, 2014, Nalley was presiding over the jury selection of Delvon King who was representing himself on gun charges.  Nalley asked King whether he had any questions for the potential jurors and rather than ask a question, King began reading from a written statement, during which time he questioned the Court’s jurisdiction over him.  King purported to hold a belief that he was a sovereign citizen.

Self-proclaimed sovereign citizens often adopt the position that they are accountable only to their personal interpretation of the common law and are not subject to any statutes or proceedings at the state or federal levels.

King refused an order from Nalley to stop and it was at that time that Nalley ordered King to be shocked.  King was later found guilty on the criminal charges.

Nalley was sentenced today in federal court and was ordered to take anger management classes and was also given a $5,000.00 fine and a year of probation.