AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The Maine Legislature on Tuesday passed a bill that would ban the use of handheld phones and devices while driving.
If enacted, Maine would become the 15th state in the nation to fully prohibit the use of devices while driving, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut have similar existing statutes.
Maine is already one of 47 states that have fully banned texting while driving.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland, was passed by both the Senate last Friday by a vote of 21-14, and the House on Tuesday, 85-60.
A "handheld electronic device" is defined in the bill as "any device that is not part of the operating equipment of the motor vehicle," including, but not limited to, electronic games, devices for sending or receiving electronic mail, text messaging devices or computers.
Band radio or 2-way radio is not included in that definition.
Punishments for disobeying the law would include…
- $75 for violating traffic infraction
- $150 for violating traffic infraction at least twice within three years
Exceptions to the law would include…
- If a hands-free feature is active and the driver is 18 years or older not operating with a temporary license
- During "emergency circumstances," defined in the bill as "circumstances in which there is an immediate threat to the health or well-being of any person"
The bill's fiscal impact statement shows it would cost the state slightly more than $65,000 but would return more than $1 million in revenue, netting about $960,000.
The legislation awaits the governor's signature to be enacted.
Read the full legislation below: