The Maine Legislature is debating a bill that would require
companies that hire commercial truck drivers to verify whether the drivers have
valid operator’s licenses.
The bill is a companion bill to another bill that would
impose stricter sentences on drivers convicted of operating with a suspended
license. That law, known as “Tina’s Law” came about after a deadly wreck July
25, 2005, that claimed the life of Tina Turcotte of Scarborough, ME.
Scott Hewitt, the truck driver charged in that wreck, was
driving with a suspended license and had a driving record with 63 convictions.
The Bangor Daily News reported that the companion
bill saw some strong opposition when it was brought before the state’s
Transportation Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 31.
In addition to requiring companies to check for valid
licenses, the bill would give companies access to driving records to do a
minimum driving record check, according to the Daily News.
Critics of the bill questioned who would be responsible for
record checks in cases involving shippers, brokers and receivers. Another
question was whether the bill would include truckers with out-of-state licenses
who are working in Maine. There was also some concern as to how a safe driving
record would be defined, the Daily News reported.
Other critics said that the bill did not include penalties
for those who were found in violation, a charge the bill’s sponsor said could
easily be remedied.
Rep. Walter Ash, D-Belfast, said he would support any
amendments to the bill adding fines or other punishments, according to the Daily
The committee is scheduled to work on the bill on Friday,