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Police warn Maine drivers their 'free pass' is expiring

Police departments in Maine are now seeing an uptick in speeding, distracted driving, and alcohol related crashes after a 30 percent drop in traffic stops in 2020

MAINE, USA — EDITOR'S NOTE: The above video aired May 11, 2020.

Since the pandemic started many police departments in Maine have pumped the breaks on traffic stops in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

"We looked at, like most agencies looked at, reducing contact with the public not only for their safety but ours," Falmouth Police Chief John Kilbride said.

That meant minor speeding violations or broken tail lights were no longer a priority.  

Kilbride says traffic contact in Falmouth was down 50 percent in 2020 compared to the year before. And they're not the only department seeing a big reduction. 

According to the Maine Violations Bureau, there were 61,436 tickets issued in Maine in 2019. A year later that number was just 42,621. That's a 30 percent drop.

Kilbride says his department is starting to see the impact of holding back.

"We're seeing a spike in alcohol related crashes and seeing more complaints of speeding vehicles and weaving cars," he said.

With the number of Covid-19 cases decreasing and police officers being vaccinated, Kilbride says it's time, once again, to step up traffic enforcement. 

"People need to register their vehicle, you can't do that anymore, so register your vehicle. Have your cars inspected, put down the phones and slow down," he said.

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Kilbride says while his officers never turned a blind eye to egregious traffic violations, he says it's now time to to focus on proactive efforts. 

"That's what we're here for, to do our job. The safety of our roadways benefits everybody," he said.

The Falmouth Police Department says they will be stepping up enforcement in the next couple of weeks.

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