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Bill Would Reduce Fines For First-Time Hands-Free Offenses

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
In this Thursday, May 16, 2019 photo, a driver uses his cell phone while driving in Portland, Maine.

Maine lawmakers are considering a bill that would clarify how much a violator can be fined for using a hand-held device while driving.

The $50 fine for a first offense matches what lawmakers originally intended when they passed a “hands-free” distracted driving law last year, but it is a sharp decrease from the $230 imposed by the courts.

“The idea was not to raise money necessarily on this but to just get people’s attention, and the second offense would be $250,” says Democratic state Sen. Bill Diamond of Windham.

Diamond sponsored the original legislation and this most recent bill. He says, because of language in the first bill, the judiciary was asked to set the fines.

Diamond says when he learned how high the cost was for a first offense, he called Chief Justice Leigh Saufley, who put the amount on hold until the Legislature could act.