Maine Distracted Driving Laws
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Primary Law).
- Ban on texting for all drivers.
- Maine has passed a law making it against the law to drive while distracted in the state.
Maine’s Texting While Driving Stand
In the year 2011, the state of Maine had only 136 driving fatalities, which is a very low number for any state, but especially for one with the sheer size and weather that Maine has. While driver education and crackdowns on distracted driving got part of the credit for the low death statistics, many people are laying at least a part of the responsibility for the low fatalities on the anti-texting laws that were enacted to cut down on drivers getting distracted by the texts on their cell phones.
The bill was written by Maine state senator Bill Diamond and it was signed by Governor Paul LePage. Under this law, it is illegal for drivers to read or write text messages on their cell phones while driving, and there is a minimum fee of at least $100 if a driver is caught violating this law. This particular legal consideration also made Maine the 33rd state in the United States to enact a law dealing with this particular problem. The law took effect in September of 2011, and while it currently applies across the board there is talk about making an exception for police, emergency medical personnel, and firemen that violate this law while they are acting to uphold their duties.
Like any law, the Maine prohibition against the use of text messaging by drivers has laid out specific things that drivers in Maine simply cannot do or they will violate this law.
Drivers under 18 using cell phones are completely prohibited. Distracted behaviors engaged in while driving are also prohibited. If a driver is found to have been participating in another activity that distracted them as part of a traffic violation then there will be additional penalties given to that driver.
Drivers that have a learner’s permit or an intermediate license are banned from using a cell phone while driving. Text messaging while driving is banned; this comes with a minimum $100 fee for anybody.
In the case of Maine, there were a variety of incidents over the years that lead the government to enact rules and restrictions on the behavior of drivers to make certain that fewer accidents occurred as a result of distracted driving.
2009 marked the first time in Maine history that restrictions on drivers concerning distracted driving really went into effect concerning modern devices and practices. A variety of distracted driving legislation was proposed in 2009, and some of the same legislation is still in effect today. Some of the other proposed bills that did not pass included cell phone use as an offense by itself. Many of these more restrictive bills were defeated or rejected when it came time for those in power to vote.
SP 15/LD 6 went into effect in the Fall of 2009. It made distracted driving an offense, and was meant to make drivers pay closer attention and remain aware while driving. HP 36/LD 41 would have prohibited drivers from texting or making calls without a hands-free device. This attempted legislation was not passed. HP 35/LD 40 was a piece of legislation that also attempted to prohibit handheld cell phone use unless a hands-free device was employed. This legislation was rejected and it wasn’t passed.
Up until 2011, Maine had failed to pass any laws or restrictions to govern and limit the use of cell phones by adults with a full driver’s license. LD 736 and LD 670 were proposed and given public hearings in the state. The Maine State Association of Police Chiefs spoke out in favor of both of these pieces of legislation. The state’s Civil Liberties Union presented the case against, but that didn’t stop LD 736 from going into law in the fall of that year.
SP228/LD 736 Outlaws the use of text messaging while driving in Maine, imposing no less than a $100 fine on the violator. HP500/LD670 was meant to ban the use of all handheld devices while behind the wheel in the state of Maine, and a fine of $50 would have been imposed. This bill allowed for the use of hands-free devices, but the entire bill was killed on April 13 by the Transportation Committee of the state.
When the law banning text messaging for drivers was passed it included all residents of Maine, as well as emergency response personnel and police officers. LD 1808, which amounts to a special exemption given to police, fire and medical services, has been put forth by the Maine House Speaker Robert Nutting. This bill hasn’t received the support Maine’s Chiefs of Police Association, and a representative of the organization has gone on the record saying that the group didn’t believe police officers should be accorded any special privileges concerning texting and driving.