Maine Lawmaker in Drive to Jail Repeat Drunk Drivers

December 19, 2006

This year, the target for Maine lawmakers in Augusta was habitual offenders. Next year, it’ll be repeat drunken drivers.

State Sen. Bill Diamond was a sponsor of Tina’s Law, which was signed into law earlier this year and bolsters penalties against motorists with repeat offenses but refuse to get off the road.

Now, Diamond is planning to submit a bill in 2007 that seeks to increase the maximum prison sentence for a sixth drunken driving offense to 10 years, along with a lifetime driver’s license suspension.

Diamond, D-Windham, is working on the bill with Evert Fowle, the Kennebec-Somerset counties’ district attorney who was also involved in the drafting of Tina’s Law.

The new bill was prompted by the conviction earlier this month of a Winslow man for his 12th drunken driving offense. The maximum prison term available to prosecutors was five years, which Fowle believes is too lenient.

That prompted him to call Diamond, who co-chaired the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee last session.

Besides increasing the maximum penalties for a sixth OUI offense, the proposed legislation calls for a $3,000 fine and a minimum jail term of one year.

“This bill would allow courts to impose a very significant sentence for people such as Clayton Bryant who drove drunk for the 12th time subject to a maximum sentence of only five years,” Fowle wrote Diamond.

Bryant, 57, pleaded guilty in Kennebec County Superior Court on Dec. 4 to operating under the influence and two charges of violating conditions of release. He was sentenced to five years in prison, with one year suspended, followed by two years probation.

Tina’s Law, named for a Scarborough woman who was killed in an accident involving a trucker with a lengthy record of traffic offenses, targets people with five or more major motor vehicle convictions in five years.

Diamond said Tina’s Law and the new legislation fit together well.

“We’re very serious about people not drinking and driving, and this will send that message,” Diamond said.


Information from: Kennebec Journal,

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