Friday, February 21, 2020

Bill to make technical changes to “hands-free” distracted driving law passes Senate unanimously

A bill introduced by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, to make technical changes to Maine’s new “hands free” distracted driving law received unanimous support from the Maine Senate last Thursday.  The bill, LD 1901, “An Act To Amend the Laws Prohibiting the Use of Handheld Phones and Devices While Driving," would amend the language of the law to clarify the intended fine amount and exempt ham radio operators.

“Maine’s new distracted driving law is already keeping our roads safer,” said Sen. Diamond. “The technical changes in LD 1901 will clarify the Legislature’s intent for law enforcement and the courts. I appreciate my Senate colleagues’ strong support for this bill, and swift action to move it through the process.”

Last year, Sen. Diamond’s bill, LD 165, “An Act To Prohibit the Use of Handheld Phones and Devices While Driving,” became law. The new law prohibits the use of handheld electronic devices while driving, and while it set a fine of “not less than $50” for the first offense and “not less than $250” for second and subsequent offenses, the courts initially decided to set the fines at much higher rates. This was not consistent with the intent of the law.

Sen. Diamond spoke with Maine Supreme Court Chief Justice Saufley about this discrepancy and, after that conversation, the Judicial Branch announced that it would honor the intent of the law and lower the fine amount. LD 1901 would provide the necessary legislative fix to clarify the law’s original intent going forward.

LD 1901 faces further votes in the Maine Senate and House.

No comments:

Post a Comment