AUGUSTA, Maine — Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap would like to remind Maine motorists that new driving regulations, passed into law by the 126th Legislature, went into effect on Wednesday, Oct. 9. These laws are among others that became active 90 days after the close of the legislative session.
“We hope these laws continue to improve safety on the road,” said Secretary Dunlap in a press release. “Some of the changes are designed to improve convenience and accessibility, while others impose stricter sanctions for dangerous behavior. Our goal is always to advance the experience of all responsible drivers and others who use our roads.”
The following are noteworthy changes to Maine law that will affect drivers; for additional information please refer to Title 29-A, Motor Vehicle laws, 2013-2014 Edition:
- A driver who is cited for texting while driving will receive a $250 minimum fine for a first time violation and a $500 fine on a second or subsequent offense within three years. In addition, texting violations will now include a 30-day license suspension on a second offense; a 60-day suspension on a third offense; and a 90-day suspension on a fourth or subsequent violation. These suspension periods are mandatory, without a right to a hearing.
- The minimum practice time for a driver under the age of 21 who applies for a learner’s permit on or after October 9, 2013, has increased from 35 to 70 hours, including an increase in night driving from five to 10 hours. Drivers completing their practice time must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or licensed driver at least 20 years of age. Additionally, while the permit exam is administered by the driving school prior to program completion, the law now requires all learners’ permits to be issued only by the Secretary of State.
- Previously, active duty military personnel had 30 days to obtain a non-military identification card or license after discharge from service; they will now have up to 180 days.
- Bicyclists are now part of the definition of “traffic” and a collision between a motor vehicle and a bicyclist or roller skier is prima facie evidence that the motorist violated the three foot law.
- Police officers as well as the BMV may now accept proof of current insurance in electronic form.
- An officer may, at his or her discretion, issue a permit to travel directly home or to the BMV if a driver is found to be operating illegally on an expired license.
- The suspension period for an operating while under the influence offender with three or more previous offenses within 10 years has been increased from six years to eight years.
- The license of a person with four or more OUI offense may be eligible for early reinstatement after serving four years of the suspension period if an approved ignition interlock device is installed for a period of four years.