New Maryland Laws Take Effect October 1, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Have a bunch of fuzzy dice on hanging on your rearview mirror? You may want to take them down this weekend if they are getting in the way of your view through the windshield.

Starting Sunday, it’s no longer permitted to have any “object, material or obstruction hanging from the rearview mirror.” While police cannot pull drivers over for this offense alone, it is a secondary violation that can be added to the list if a driver is suspected of another offense.

That is just one of many new policies taking effect on Oct. 1. Changes in definitions of crimes such as rape and animal cruelty will also become law, and people with marijuana and assault charges may be eligible to have their records expunged.

Below are some highlights of laws taking effect Sunday, Oct. 1. See the full list of new laws from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services.


Drivers may pass on the right shoulder if a vehicle is making a left turn ahead and the driver does not leave the paved surface.

Bicyclists and unicyclists are provided the same protections as pedestrians in crosswalks.

Tow trucks may travel in HOV lanes while responding to calls.

Drivers of ATVs or snowmobiles on highways must have driver’s licenses.

Objects that obstruct a driver’s view through the windshield cannot be hung from the rearview mirror.

Commercial license holders in noncompliance with child support have longer to resolve the issue; the period before the MVA can revoke a commercial licensehas been extended from 60 days to 120 days.

Criminal/Judicial Proceedings

The maximum sentence has increased from three years to five years for homicide while impaired by controlled dangerous substances.

Driving record entries that resulted in the death of another person may not be expunged.

Possession of marijuana may be expunged from one’s record by showing good cause.

Those guilty of common law battery may file for expungement 15 years after serving their time.

To prove that a sex crime was committed, victims are not required to show evidence of physical resistance.

First and second-degree sex offenses will now be called first and second-degree rape.

Health providers must provide victims with information regarding rape kits and must submit rape kits to law enforcement within 30 days of collection. Law enforcement must keep rape kits in evidence for 20 years.

Victims of certain crimes may be notified of offenders’ statuses using electronic monitoring technology and “stay away” devices.

There is now a statute of limitations on child sex abuse; for civil damages, actions must be filed 20 years after the victim becomes an adult or within three years of the alleged perpetrator’s conviction.

Home invasion is now officially recognized as a violent crime.

The Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission must adopt statewide standards for and collect data on SWAT teams.

It is no longer a misdemeanor to practice barbering without a license. The penalty remains a maximum $1,000 per day, but practicing without a license is no longer a criminal offense.


Screening results distributed by mammography centers will no longer state which specific tests are needed but will suggest the patient and doctor review whether to pursue additional testing.

Art therapists are now eligible for reimbursement through insurance plans.

Telehealth offerings will include substance use disorder counseling.

Certain people may receive “directory information,” such as whether an individual is present at a health care facility, in connection with mental health services. The change reportedly came after testimony from a parent who could not find his son, who suffers from psychosis, for months after the hospital transferred him.

An AIDS education program for those convicted of sex and drug-related crimes has been repealed.

A healthy aging program has been created for through the Department of Aging.


The definition of animal cruelty includes not providing proper shelter, weather protection, proper air and proper space; and aggravated animal cruelty involves beating, mutilating, torturing and killing an animal.

Retail pet stores will be required to post inspection reports on or near cages if the animals are from a breeder.

People with at least six unspayed female animals used for breeding will be required to have a kennel license. The number was previously 15 or more, or if the person sells six or more litters a year.

The maximum amount allowed in damages for someone who causes injury or death to a pet has increased from $7,500 to $10,000.


The state is establishing a grant program for security upgrades at schools and day care centers at risk of hate crimes or attacks.

Public school employees are now covered under the Whistleblower Protection Act.

Colleges in the University System of Maryland will be required to establish collegiate recovery programs to assist those with drug and alcohol addiction.

The state superintendent of schools must require each county school superintendent to ensure that every public school is holding at least 10 fire drills per school year.

County school boards may create two-way electronic tip programs to report bullying, and the governor may fund the programs.


Campaign signs will be allowed at polling places starting at 5 p.m. — rather than 4 p.m. — the day before an election.

Election judges may be 16 years old. Previously, they had to be 17.


Hydraulic fracturing of a well for production of oil or natural gas will be prohibited in the state.

With the repeal of a filial support law, children are no longer held accountable for destitute parents.

The motto on the state seal now has an official translation. “Fatti maschii parole femine” — the Calvert family motto — had been controversial for its translation of “manly deeds, womanly words.” Its official translation in the state of Maryland, which bears the Tuscan motto on its seal, is now “Strong deeds, gentle words.”

Health department officials must notify people if housing exceeds certain lead levels.

Plastics must meet industry standards to be labeled biodegradable, recycled or suitable for compost.

Bail bondsmen and cosmetologists will be required to complete continuing education; cosmetologists will be required to complete at least six hours of continuing education for license renewals starting Oct. 1, 2018.

Custodians of public records must explain why they are denying access to records — specifically, why they are not redacting some information to allow for a record’s release.

Buying state lottery tickets using the internet on mobile phones or personal computers is prohibited.

The POW/MIA flag will be flown at all state buildings controlled by general services or transportation.

Specific Laws In Jurisdictions

Baltimore City now has a beer, wine and liquor tasting license in the 43rd legislative district, which includes the area between Charles Street and Harford Road from North Avenue north to the city line.

In Baltimore County, the governor may not appoint members to the school board who are running for office in an election year. The county executive must designate the chair of a commission that submits nominees.

Carroll County correctional officers may be subject to polygraph testing.

Frederick County organizations may now apply for gaming permits to hold fairs and carnivals on Sundays anytime when alcohol is served, not just before 1 p.m.

St. Mary’s County, which previously changed the shape of its dog licensing tags each year, will now keep the general shapes of the tags to remain the same.

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Image by Thad Zajdowicz via Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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Originally published Sep 28, 2017.

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