Maine panel approves repeat offender bill

| 3/14/2006

A Maine legislative panel has unanimously approved a bill that would provide mandatory minimum sentences for some of the state’s worst drivers.

On Monday, March 13, the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety approved the bill, which singles out drivers who have been convicted of being habitual offenders and yet continue to drive anyway.

The Bangor Daily News reported that the committee’s version of the bill creates a new class of crime for aggravated operating after a habitual offender license revocation.

Under the law, if the actions of a repeat offender result in injury to another person, the courts could impose jail sentences of up to five years and fines of up to $5,000. A five-year driver’s license suspension would be mandatory.

If the actions of the repeat offender result in the death of another person, the driver would be charged with a Class B crime, which could carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years and fines of up to $10,000, The Daily News reported. There would also be an automatic 10-year suspension of the individual’s driver’s license.

The law has been dubbed “Tina’s Law,” after Tina Turcotte, a 40-year-old Scarborough woman who was killed in an accident in July 2005. Scott Hewitt, the truck driver charged in that wreck, had a record that included 63 driving convictions and 23 license suspensions and was driving on a suspended license at the time of the wreck.

Hewitt is currently in Kennebec County Jail facing manslaughter charges, according to The Daily News.

The bill now heads to the full legislature for a final vote.