The law of the land

6 Apr

© Ed Brown via Creative Commons

It’s completely possible that in one day you could wake up at your home in Virginia, commute into DC for work and then go to a friend’s house in Maryland for dinner. This type of situation is pretty unique to our area, and one consequence is that you’ve got to be aware of which laws apply where.

Smoking in restaurants

Prohibiting smoking in restaurants and bars perfectly illustrates the typical progression of these types of laws in the DC area. In 2007, DC banned smoking in restaurants and bars.  In 2008, Maryland followed suit. Virginia approved a no smoking law in 2009 but with the provision that restaurants with a separately-ventilated smoking rooms were allowed (tough luck for the employees, I guess).

Talking on the phone while driving
Way back in 2004, DC prohibited driving while using a hand-held cell phone. Just last year, Maryland implemented the law. In Virginia you can still chat your heart out. Interestingly, Virginia doesn’t allow texting while driving (nor do DC or MD).

Plastic bag tax
In 2010, DC implemented a plastic bag tax of $.05 per bag, with funds going to clean up the Anacostia River. Maryland’s Montgomery County looks poised to pass their owe bag tax soon too.

Note: The differences in laws are largely a result of political makeup. About 90 percent of the district’s residents are democrats as are roughly 60 percent of Marylanders. Virginia is far more neck and neck, with Northern Virginia generally voting democratic and Southern Virginia voting republican.

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