AUGUSTA – Maine has already banned texting and driving..but a new bill would ban all handheld devices.
“We see it every day,” said Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland, about texting and driving.
Texting and driving is illegal in Maine.
“Even though it’s against the law, [people are] saying when they’re pulled over that they’re just punching in a number in the phone to call, which is not illegal. The difficulty is for law enforcement to discern the difference between punching in a number, which is legal, and texting, which is illegal,” said Sen. Diamond, who sponsored the bill.
A new bill would help clear that up, by banning all handheld electronic devices while driving.
“People are using smartphones while driving more than even, before looking down, more eye time off the road,” said Patrick Moody, Public Affairs Manager of AAA Northern New England.
“Handheld electronic devices become a greater hazard even than alcohol on our highways and the legislature is now trying to address that,” said Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.
So when you’re getting in your car, you can still have your phone with you. You just can’t have it in your hand.
“You can put it on the dashboard. If you use Bluetooth, that’s fine too. You can use your GPS, all of that is still good,” Sen. Diamond said.
First time offenders would have to pay $75, but after that the fine doubles.
“It’s not a way to make money. We have a serious, serious issue. 3,500 people a year die because of this, it’s time we addressed it,” said Sen. Diamond.
The bill has passed in the House and is now awaiting final Senate approval.