A new Maine law that aims to crack down on people with multiple drunken driving violations is among several that kick in Friday, roughly three months after the Democratic-led Legislature wrapped up its short, combative session.
The new law isn’t expected to impact many people, but supporters say it will still be a big step toward making the state’s roads safer from the most dangerous repeat drunk drivers.
“They are the people who absolutely should not be driving on Maine roads,” said Democratic Rep. Tim Marks, a retired state trooper from Pittston who introduced the bill.
Under the law, people with a felony operating-under-the-influence conviction on their record would be charged with a felony for subsequent offenses, which can result in up to 10 years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines, said Walt McKee, a defense attorney in Augusta. A person is charged with a felony if a victim is killed or seriously injured or if it’s their third offense in 10 years.
Currently, if someone’s felony conviction is more than 10 years old, then their next offense is considered a misdemeanor, which carries a much smaller penalty.
The law – which Gov. Paul LePage vetoed because he said it doesn’t capture enough drunken driving offenders – is among dozens that take effect 90 days after lawmakers finished their session in May. The new laws don’t include “emergency” legislation, which kicked in immediately with the Republican governor’s approval.
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