A leading Maine state lawmaker is working on a bill that
would get tougher with repeat drunken drivers in the state.
Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, chairman of the Criminal
Justice and Public Safety Committee, wants to crackdown on people behind the
wheel who are operating under the influence.
Diamond is no stranger to efforts to allow stricter
penalties for bad drivers. He was a sponsor of "Tina's Law," which was signed
into law this year to bolster penalties against motorists who continue to
driver after losing their driving privileges.
His newest effort is expected to call for increased prison
sentences for a sixth drunken driving offense to 10 years. A lifetime driver's
license suspension would be attached.
The new bill follows on the heels of the conviction earlier
this month of a Winslow, ME, man for his 12th drunken driving conviction, The Associated Press reported. The
maximum sentence available was five years.
In addition to boosting the maximum penalty, the bill is
expected to include a provision for a $3,000 fine and a minimum jail term of
Tina's Law focuses on drivers with the worst motor vehicle
records who continue to get behind the wheel. The bill is named for Tina Turcotte
of Scarborough, ME. The 40-year-old was killed on July 29, 2005, in a wreck
involving trucker Scott Hewitt.
Hewitt has 63 driving convictions and 23 license suspensions
in Maine and other states, The AP
reported. He also was involved in a 1994 fatality.
Hewitt's Maine license and registration were both under
suspension at the time of the wreck, and there were outstanding warrants for
his arrest, the newspaper reported.
The new law, which took effect in September, targets people
with five or more major motor vehicle convictions in five years.
It allows sentences of up to five years in prison and $5,000
fines for causing accidents that seriously injures other people. For fatality
wrecks, drivers can face up to 10 years in prison and as much as $20,000 in
The OUI bill is expected to come up for consideration after
the first of the year.