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Governor Mills signs bill to ban handheld phones and devices while driving

Law enforcement agencies and transportation safety officials strongly supported the bill.
Credit: AP
A driver talks on their phone as they make their way through traffic. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

AUGUSTA, Maine — Governor Mills signed a bill into law making Maine a 'hands-free' state behind the wheel.

In 90 days, Maine will establish rules similar to New Hampshire, that prevent people from holding and using their cellphones or other mobile devices while driving.

Law enforcement agencies and transportation safety officials strongly supported the bill.

RELATED: Busted: Maine State Police catch distracted drivers using cellphones

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RELATED: Legislature passes bill requiring drivers to use hands-free phones

Texting or dialing behind the wheel is already illegal, but legislators and law enforcement officers say it was too difficult to enforce.

There are some nuances: there is no exception for using a handheld electronic device or mobile telephone while a motor vehicle is stopped in traffic, but does permit use when a car is pulled over in a safe location. 

"The operator of a motor vehicle may use a hand to activate or deactivate a feature or function of a mobile telephone or handheld electronic device that is in hands-free mode and mounted or affixed to the vehicle in a location that does not interfere with the operator's view of the road if the feature or function activated requires only a single swipe, tap or push of the operator's finger. "

There is an exception for contacting emergency services personnel in emergency situations. 

A person who violates the law commits will be fined not less than $50 for the first offense and not less than $250 for a second or subsequent offense may be adjudged.