State Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland, of Windham announced earlier this week that “Tina’s Law” was given a unanimous “ought to pass” vote by members of the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety.

Senator Diamond’s legislation, An Act to Safeguard Maine’s Highways, seeks to stiffen penalties against repeat offenders operating a vehicle after their license is suspended. The legislation has been dubbed “Tina’s Law” in honor of Tina Turcotte whose life was claimed by a horrific traffic accident July 29, 2005 on Interstate 95. Scott Hewitt, who was behind the wheel of the tractor trailer rig that crashed into Tina’s car, was driving with a suspended license at the time of the accident.

“This is landmark legislation in that Maine is taking a new approach toward people who continue to drive after their license is suspended,” commented Senator Diamond. “Tina’s Law makes operating after suspension (OAS) a serious offense with mandated jail sentences for repeat offenders. If a driver is caught driving after suspension, the message will be unmistakable by way of increased fees and jail time. This bill says when you’re caught for OAS, you’re off the road.”

In order to be subject to Tina’s Law, a driver must have had three major offenses as described in the legislation. The bill now heads to the full Legislature for debate.

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