In an effort to alleviate congestion in heavily-trafficked areas of Baltimore City, Maryland legislators have drafted a law creating a new traffic violation known as “blocking the box.” Here, the traffic violation attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein details the law and the implications of it.
“Blocking the Box” Will Now Be Legally Classed as a Misdemeanor
“Blocking the box” will be the newest traffic violation added to Maryland law. The practice occurs when a driver pulls into an intersection without ensuring they will be able to drive through before the light turns red, thereby causing a gridlock effect and backing up traffic in multiple directions. Traffic officials will begin issuing warnings on May 1st and are expected to begin issuing citations starting June 1st.
A first-time violation is considered a misdemeanor and will result in a $90 fine, as well as a point on the driver’s license. Subsequent violations could cause drivers to incur additional points and a potential $500 fine. The bill was brought before legislators last year and received nearly unanimous support.
Baltimore’s Effort to Improve Traffic Flow and Citizen Safety
According to Maryland Department of Transportation officials, “blocking the box” is not only disruptive to traffic pattern and a major cause of congestion, but it can also cause increased hazards to pedestrians and bicyclists. Recent surveys show that 32% of pedestrian-involved auto accidents in Maryland occur in Baltimore City, and officials hope this initiative will help to reduce the number of these types of accidents within the city.
According to Maryland Department of Transportation official Michelle Pourciau, “We really want people to understand it’s not that we want to ticket, we want the traffic to move safely, we want pedestrians to be able to cross safely through intersections, we want bikes to travel safely, we want buses to be on time. All of this goes into how we operate in the infrastructure.”
Baltimore City Council President Raises Concerns Regarding the New Policy
Baltimore City Council President Jack Young raised concerns about the new policy and has asked that the law not go into effect until other traffic-related issues are solved, such as traffic lights that are not in sync. While he is not against fining drivers for blocking the box, he believes it would not be fair until transportation officials ensure that traffic lights are properly synchronized throughout Baltimore, which he claims also causes a lot of the congestion on Baltimore streets. It is still uncertain how much the project would cost, or how long it would take.
Protect Your Rights with an Experienced Traffic Violations Attorney
Regardless of Young’s concerns, the “Don’t Block the Box” campaign is still scheduled to begin on May 1st, and it will be important for drivers to be mindful when pulling into intersections. With new traffic laws can come legal uncertainty and confusion. If you have been cited for a traffic violation, call The Law Offices of Douglas C. Lauenstein to learn more about your rights and retain legal counsel.