Office of the Staff Judge Advocate
521 Fraim Street
Fort Detrick, Maryland 21702
Maryland Motor Vehicle Laws
A member of the Armed Forces living in Maryland who is not a legal resident of Maryland is exempt from having to register a personal passenger vehicle in Maryland so long as the vehicle is registered in the service member's state of legal residence (domicile). Vehicles registered jointly to a service member and a spouse in the service member's state of domicile are also exempt. Nonresident service members who do not take advantage of the exemption waste money and risk the interpretation that the registration was done as a step toward changing the soldier's legal residence to Maryland. However, vehicles registered solely to a nonresident dependent are not exempt and must be registered in Maryland within 30 days of arriving, unless the owner is a student attending a Maryland educational institution. MD TRANSPORTATION ARTICLE § 13-402.1.
- DRIVERS LICENSES
All drivers' on Maryland roads must have a valid driver's license unless they are exempt. Nonresidents who are members of the uniformed services and the dependents of uniformed members who have a valid drivers' license in their state of domicile are exempt and need not obtain a drivers' license in Maryland. MD TRANSPORTATION ARTICLE §16-102.
NOTE: Since state licensing authorities will renew licenses through the mail for their domiciliaries serving elsewhere on active duty, uniformed members should not obtain a license in the state in which they are serving simply because it is convenient. The state shown on a service member's LES and drivers' license should match. A drivers' license is an individual's best evidence to prove a state of domicile (legal residence). This is not necessarily a service member's home of record. The state of domicile is the state in which an individual has a right to vote. The laws of a person's state of domicile govern his or her rights and obligations for such legal matters as dividing military retired pay and other marital property in a divorce, determining child support, obtaining in-state tuition for colleges within the state, or for making a valid last will and testament. This is also the state to which an individual owes state income tax.
Certain restrictions apply to minors obtaining a Maryland driver's license. Minors between the ages of 16 and 18 may be issued a "provisional driver's license" for 12 months; a parent may be required to co-sign the application for this license. With this license, driving is not allowed between 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. unless the driver is accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years of age. Completion of a driver's education course is required before a minor may receive a permanent license. A minor's license may be suspended on request of the license co-signer. MD TRANSPORTATION ARTICLE § 16-103 and 107.
Owners of vehicles registered in Maryland must have vehicle liability insurance with minimum limits of $20,000 for death or bodily injury to one person; $40,000 for two or more persons; and $10,000 for property damage. Failure to carry the minimum coverage is a misdemeanor. Motorists who are unable to purchase private insurance may apply for coverage from the Maryland Auto Insurance Fund (MAIF). MD. INS § 17-103 and 104.
- ACCIDENT REPORTS
A written accident report must be made to the Motor Vehicle Administration immediately when an accident caused bodily injury or property damage. MD TRANSPORTATION ARTICLE § 20-104.
An inspection is required before a vehicle may be registered in Maryland. Although Maryland's inspection is very stringent and thorough, there is no yearly inspection requirement; but, a used car must be inspected within 30 days prior to its sale if the car is to be registered in Maryland. No inspection is required if the transfer is between spouses, or between parents and children. MD. TRANSPORTATION ARTICLE § 23-101, 106 and 107.
- MOTOR VEHICLE REPAIRS
Before work is begun on repairs expected to cost more than $50.00, the repairer must provide the owner with a written estimate. The ultimate cost may not exceed 10% of the estimate. A repair facility may not charge for work not authorized by the customer. Any parts removed must be returned to the customer unless returned to the manufacturer under a warranty. MD COMMERCIAL LAW ARTICLE §14-1001 to 1009.
- CHILD RESTRAINT & MANDATORY SEAT BELT USE
A child under the age of four or weighing less than forty pounds is required to be seated in a safety seat or child restraint that is manufactured in accordance with the 1981 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Simply buckling up your child under the age of four in the vehicle's standard restraints is not sufficient. A child weighing at least forty pounds, or a child between four and ten years of age may use a child safety seat or a properly fastened seat belt. A fine of $500.00 may be imposed for a violation of this law. MD TRANSPORTATION ARTICLE §22-412.2.
A person may not operate a motor vehicle unless that person and each front seat passenger are restrained by a seat belt (or child safety device, as appropriate) MD TRANSPORTATION ARTICLE § 22-412.3.
- THE MARYLAND LEMON LAW
MD COMMERCIAL LAW ARTICLE § 14-1501 to 14-1504.
- If a vehicle purchased after July 1, 1984, fails to conform to all applicable warranties during the first 15 months or 15,000 miles (warranty period), and the failure is reported in writing sent by certified mail, return receipt requested to the manufacturer or agent (dealer/seller), the problem must be corrected without charge. The problem must be one that substantially impairs the use or value of the vehicle.
- The consumer may elect to either exchange the vehicle or receive a full refund in three cases: (1) if the manufacturer or agent fails to correct the problem after making a reasonable number of attempts during the warranty period (four or more attempts is presumed to be reasonable); or (2) if repairs keep the vehicle out of service for 30 cumulative days during the warranty period; or (3) if a problem in the braking or steering system has not been successfully repaired during the warranty period.
- Any agreement to limit these consumer rights is void. The rights must be enforced within three years and the consumer may first utilize informal dispute resolution methods before filing suit. Subsequent purchasers of a vehicle returned under the above-noted provisions must receive notice of this fact.
- If you are think the Maryland lemon law applies to you, the first step is to contact the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.
- DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES INFORMATION
Motor Vehicle Administration , 6601 Ritchie Highway N.E., Glen Burnie, MD 21062. Telephone (410) 768-7274.
- FOR MORE INFORMATION
Make an appointment to speak to an attorney in the Fort Detrick Legal Assistance Office at 521 Fraim Street on Fort Detrick. Members of the uniformed services on active duty for more than 29 days, retired military personnel and family members are eligible for legal assistance. We also provide limited services to members of the Reserve Component on matters that impact a military deployment. Our office hours are 0730-1630, Monday through Friday. Walk-ins are seen on a case-by-case basis on a showing of a legal emergency. Our telephone number is (301) 619-2221, DSN 343-2221.