Maine debates second law aimed at bad drivers

| 2/1/2006

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 News.

The committee is scheduled to work on the bill on Friday, Feb. 3.