Maine Motorists See Impact of New Hands-Free Driving Law - NECN
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Maine Motorists See Impact of New Hands-Free Driving Law

The law that prohibits the use of hand-held phones and other devices while driving went into effect last week

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Impact of Maine's Hand-Free Driving Law Felt by Motorists

    Motorists in Maine are already seeing signs of enforcement of the state's new hands-free driving law which has been in effect for only a week.

    (Published Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019)

    With the new hands-free driving law in Maine already one week in the books, motorists in the state are seeing signs of enforcement.

    The law prohibits the use of hand-held phones and other devices while driving and went into effect in Maine last week.

    The law states that no one can operate a vehicle "while using, manipulating, talking into or otherwise interacting with a hand-held electronic device or mobile telephone."

    Signs warning drivers about the new law have been placed on the sides of interstates and at some major rest stops.

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    In just days, Maine could become the next New England state to require that cellphones are used hands-free when driving.
    (Published Thursday, June 20, 2019)

    Police departments are also enforcing the law. Maine State Police even have a modified tractor-trailer they are using to monitor drivers to see if they are using their phones.

    For the most part, drivers, law enforcement and state lawmakers say they are pleased with its early effects.

    "We all had to make adjustments, including myself," said Falmouth Police Chief John Kilbride. "I'm pleased to say we've only written a few tickets."

    Fines for distracted driving begin at $50.

    Most drivers said the only part of the law's rollout they've been upset about was a mix-up over fine amounts.

    The $50 fee that came with a court fee of $35, suddenly became a $230 hit when a judge interpreted the law in a way its authors never intended, causing confusion for police officers issuing tickets and those receiving them.

    Mass. Drivers Voice Opinions on Hands-Free Cellphone Bill

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    While Massachusetts lawmakers move closer to banning cellphone use behind the wheel, some drivers are voicing their opinions.

    (Published Thursday, May 16, 2019)

    "We gave our word at $50," said Maine state Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, who helped author the bill. "It was very important we stick to that and once I explained that to the supreme court justice, she was excellent."

    With the issue resolved, many drivers Thursday could be found donning headsets and pairing phones with their cars.

    "Our 2015 car came with Bluetooth," said Jake Deerly, visiting Maine from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. "We've been hands-free for about four years already."

    Other drivers were even more self-restricting, saying the idea of mixing car and cellphone is simply a non-starter for them.

    "Drive now, talk later. That says it all for me," said Rachel Henry of Old Orchard.

    Some police departments and lawmakers will measure the law's success by the number of car crashes it reduces.

    Falmouth police are hoping for at least a 15% drop in car crashes by next year that they hope to attribute to drivers going hands-free.

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