AUGUSTA — In a single meeting Tuesday, the Legislature’s Transportation Committee heard testimony on, debated and endorsed a bill to deter irresponsible driving among teenagers.

L.D. 1912 would extend the restriction period for intermediate driver’s licenses and add fines and suspensions for violations. It also would increase the minimum fine for texting while driving from $100 to $250 for all drivers.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, and has the support of Secretary of State Charlie Summers.

Summers testified that parents and grandparents at public forums across the state have requested stiffer penalties for irresponsible driving.

“They all felt like most of these fines were, in today’s world, pretty much just a slap on the wrist, and we needed to send a message to people that there were ramifications for their actions,” Summers said.

Summers said L.D. 1912 is modeled after an even tougher Massachusetts law. In the three years after the law went into effect in 2007, the number of fatal crashes involving drivers younger than 18 dropped by 75 percent in Massachusetts.


Summers said that since Christmas, Maine has had 18 traffic fatalities involving drivers ages 18–24.

Under current law, drivers younger than 18 who receive their first license may not have anyone other than immediate family in the car while they’re driving, may not drive from midnight to 5 a.m. or use a cell phone while driving for the first 180 days after the license is issued. Any violation adds 180 days to the restriction period.

L.D. 1912 would increase the restriction period to 270 days and add 270 days for any violations. The bill would impose fines of $250–$500, a license suspension and a reinstatement fee of $50 for violations. The suspension would range from 60 days for a first offense to a year for a third or subsequent offense.

L.D. 1912 also would increase the length of license suspensions for moving violations by holders of juvenile provisional licenses, which is what drivers younger than 21 receive. A first-offense suspension would increase from 30 days to 60 days, and a third-offense suspension would increase from 90 days to one year.

For major offenses – such as operating a vehicle under the influence or driving under suspension – juvenile provisional license holders would be subject to a new reinstatement fee of $350.

The committee stripped out a provision of the bill that would have required people over 18 to take drivers education before obtaining a license for the first time.


Kennebec Journal Susan McMillan can be contacted at 621-5645 or at:


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