Maine’s texting and driving law goes into effect in September 2011, 90 days after the legislature adjourns. Fines will be no less than $100, although higher penalties were not specified.
The distracted driving law calls for primary enforcement, meaning police can stop and cite motorists for the offense without further cause. Previously, police could not stop drivers solely because they were observed text messaging while behind the wheel.
Final approval of the bill came in the House and Senate on May 23.
Sen. Bill Diamond (pictured), D-Windham, was the author of LD 763. He also created Maine’s general distracted driving law of 2009, which penalized motorists who fail to have their vehicles under control due to wide range of behaviors.
Diamond said in August: “While Maine took a big step forward passing a distracted driver law in 2009, it is clear to me now that measure deals more with the effect.” Instead, he said, the new texting measure “deals better with the cause of the problem.”
The Maine Chiefs of Police Association supported the proposed texting law during legislative debate.
Maine prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using cell phones while driving, but there are no restrictions on adults.
Texting & driving czar Ray LaHood did a drive-by press release: “Distracted driving kills thousands of people every year on our roads and injures hundreds of thousands more,” the DOT leader said. “By signing this tough texting ban into law today, Gov. LePage has taken a crucial step to improve safety and save lives on Maine roads.
USA Today added this comment while reporting on Maine’s new law: “It kind of makes you wonder about the 17 states that still don’t have them.”