New Baltimore Law Makes “Blocking the Box” a Traffic Violation

Last year, Maryland legislators drafted a law making “blocking the box”—the act of waiting in the middle of an intersection after the traffic light has turned red—a traffic violation that could result in a maximum fine of $500. Now, with the passage of the law, officers will patrol the streets of Baltimore in an attempt to curb this common and dangerous practice. Here, the traffic violation attorneys at the Law Offices of Douglas T. Sachse details the implications of the new law.

The Department of Transportation Seeks to Make Baltimore Streets Safer for Pedestrians

Thirty-two percent of auto accidents involving pedestrians occur within Baltimore City. The new law drafted by Maryland legislators making “blocking the box” a punishable offense is meant to curb the number of pedestrian-involved incidents, according to statements made by the Department of Transportation (DOT). The practice of blocking the box can be common in congested areas of Baltimore and other major cities across the country, and other cities, such as New York, have also developed laws attempting to curb the behavior.

“Motorists who block the box cause traffic congestion, delays and prevent vehicles from passing through the intersection safely, but also create dangerous conditions for pedestrians and cyclists because they can’t walk safely through crosswalk areas,” said Michelle Purciau, Baltimore DOT director.

The Consequences of Blocking the Box on Baltimore Streets

Starting May 1st, traffic officers will patrol Baltimore streets in an effort to monitor drivers at intersections. A 30-day warning period will be put into effect to help drivers become acclimated to the new policy. After the 30-day period, the DOT will assess the results of new enforcement to determine whether the warning period should be extended, or if they should begin issuing citations.

After a driver’s first warning for the infraction, a second infraction, considered a misdemeanor, will incur a penalty of $90 and a point on the driver’s license. Subsequent infractions will incur increased fines, not to exceed $500.

Drivers should note that exceptions exist for specific cases: for example, a vehicle making a left turn can enter an intersection during a green or yellow light and remain in the intersection after the light has turned red to wait for opposing traffic to clear, and a vehicle making a right turn can enter the intersection during a red light while yielding right of way to a pedestrian or bicyclist. These instances will not incur a warning or further penalty from traffic officers.

What to Do if You Have Been Issued a Citation for Blocking the Box

New traffic laws can cause confusion and uncertainty for drivers, especially during peak traffic times or unfavorable conditions. The traffic violation attorneys at the Law Offices of Douglas T. Sachse are committed to defending the rights of drivers in court and know that an innocent mistake should not prevent an individual from exercising their right to representation and petition in a court of law. If you or a loved one has been issued a citation for blocking the box, or any other traffic violation, contact Douglas Sachse and his fellow attorneys to receive the representation you deserve!

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