Tougher penalties sought for Maine 's worst drivers

| Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Maine state lawmaker wants to get tough on the state’s worst drivers.

Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, has filed a bill that would allow harsher penalties for multiple driving offenses, including longer license suspensions and jail time.

The Maine Legislature is not in session, but committees have been meeting intermittently. The Legislature will reconvene at the capitol in January.

A committee with jurisdiction over public safety met recently and got a briefing on a recent fatal accident on Interstate 95 in Hallowell , ME , involving a tractor-trailer and a car.

Trucker Scott Hewitt is blamed for the crash that killed 40-year-old Tina Turcotte of Scarborough , ME , on July 29.

After the wreck, the Portland Press Herald reported Hewitt has 63 driving convictions and 23 suspensions in Maine and other states.

Hewitt’s Maine license and registration were both under suspension at the time of the accident, and there were outstanding warrants for his arrest, the newspaper reported.

Diamond, chairman of the public safety panel, told the Morning Sentinel more than 8,000 drivers in the state have more than 15 license suspensions.

His proposal would add three levels of punishment to state law. Drivers who have four license suspensions in three years, and are caught driving, would get a one-year license revocation. If nabbed driving while the license is suspended, the offender faces three months behind bars.

The second level specifies that drivers with five to eight suspensions in three years would have their licenses revoked for three years, and if caught driving again, would face one year in jail and a felony conviction.

The final level is for drivers with more than eight suspensions in three years. They would be stripped of their licenses for five years and if they continue to drive, would get two years in jail and a felony conviction.

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