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We offer the following information as starting points. If you have additional questions that can be answered by a librarian please contact our reference staff. We will do our best to keep these links current and would appreciatehearing of any problems/errors you might find.   Thank you
Cancelling consumer contracts
Child abuse reporting
Child support guidelines
Coastal/great ponds access
Common law marriage
Community property
Condominiums

Distracted drivers
Dogs, loose or dangerous
Elder abuse reporting
Emancipation of teenagers
Exchange or return of merchandise
Felonies and misdemeanors
Fireworks
Gift certificates & cards

Grandparents' visitation rights
Hate crimes
Holidays/Sunday sales
Home construction/repair contracts

Homestead exemption
Implied warranties
Intestate succession
Landlord-tenant issues
Leash Law
Lemon Law

Living wills
Medical marijuana
Medical records, confidentiality & access
Motor vehicle modifications
People’s veto
Road associations

Right to Know / Freedom of information
Sex offender registration
Smoking prohibitions
Studded snow tires
Unit pricing
Vacation (casual) rental tax

 

Cancelling consumer contracts You have a three-day period in which to cancel any door-to-door or telemarketing sales contract. This cancellation period does not apply to all contracts. Read more about this in the Attorney General's Consumer Law Guide, Chapter 13, section 4.
Child abuse reporting In Maine many adults are mandated, or required by statute, to report knowledge or reasonable suspicion of incidents of child abuse and/or neglect or suspicious child deaths. These adults include many persons working in professional capacities who interact with children on a regular or occasional basis or who assume “full, intermittent or occasional responsibility for the care or custody” of a child. Administrative personnel of religious institutions may also be required reporters. The statute which discusses mandatory reporting, including a list of persons who must report, is 22 MRSA §4011-A . Child abuse or child neglect reports must be made immediately by telephone to the Department of Health and Human Services. For more information about the process of reporting child abuse or neglect, see 22 MRSA §4012 . Any person who, in good faith, reports or participates in a related child protection investigation “is immune from any criminal or civil liability for the act of reporting or participating in the investigation or proceeding,” according to 22 MRSA §4014 . For more information on mandated reporters, see the Maine Department of Health and Human Services website.
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Child support guidelines The child support guidelines are referenced in the Maine Revised Statutes at Title 19-A, section 2006.  They are delineated in more detail in the Department of Human Services’ Child Support Enforcement Manual, regulations Chapter 351 . Within the manual the guidelines are found in chapter 6, starting on page 27. Pine Tree Legal also has a webpage on child support.
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Coastal/great ponds Access Public access to both the seashore and great ponds is provided for in the statutes.  Coastal access is governed by Title 12, sections 571-573.  Access to great ponds is governed by Title 17, section 3860.  Access to the seashore has a long history and is based on colonial and English common law. 
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Common law marriage There is no statutory language concerning common law marriage in Maine. A Maine Supreme Judicial Court case states that “common law marriages are not recognized as valid under the laws of the state” (Pierce v. Secretary of U.S. Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare, 254 A.2d 46 (1969).  
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Community property Black’s Law Dictionary does not list Maine as one of the nine community property states in this country. Maine follows marital property or equitable distribution for the division of property in divorce cases.  The statutory reference for this is Title 19-A, section 953.
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 Condominiums

The Maine Condominium Act is in the statutes at Title 33, Chapter 31.
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Distracted drivers

In the 124th Legislature, 1st Regular session (2009), the Legislature introduced LD 6 "An act to establish a distracted driver law". The bill was amended by S-126 and enacted as PL 2009, c. 446. The law went into effect on September 12, 2009. It is codified at Title 29-A, M.R.S.A., section 2118. In 2011, the Legislature enacted PL 2011, c. 207, which bans texting while driving. It is codified at Title 29-A MRSA, § 2119. A second proposal, also in the 125th legislative session, LD 1808, would have exempted emergency personnel from the ban on texting. It was not enacted.
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Dogs, Loose or dangerous

According to Title 7, section. 3911 it is “unlawful for any dog… to be at large, except when used for hunting.”  A definition of "at large is found at Title 7, section 3907, sub-section 6. It does not specify that a dog has to be on a leash. Municipalities can enact local ordinances requiring dogs to be on leashes.

Dangerous dogs also are defined at Title 7, section. 3907Chapter 727 of the same title speaks to the issue of keeping a dangerous dog and the consequences of doing so.

In 2013 a law (PL 2013, c. 348) was enacted that amended the animal trespass law to include restitution for damages or removal of the animal as well as forfeiture of the animal in situations where public health and safety is involved and the owner has a history of repeat violations. This law is not yet reflected in the online statutes (Title 7 M.R.S., section 4041).
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Elder abuse reporting

The Maine Legislature, in enacting the Adult Protective Services Act, officially recognized that some adults, because of incapacitation, dependency, and/or inability to manage finances may be unable to protect themselves from abuse, neglect or exploitation. (For full statement of legislative intent see 22 MRSA §3471 .) Under Maine law, many adults are mandated, or required by statute, to report knowledge or reasonable suspicion of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. These mandated reporters include many persons working in professional capacities that regularly, or sometimes, interact with the elderly. Also included are those who assume “full, intermittent or occasional responsibility for the care or custody” of an incapacitated or dependent adult. Administrative personnel in religious institutions and those who assist in the transportation of the elderly may also be required reporters. The statute which discusses mandatory reporting, including a list of the persons who are required to report, is 22 MRSA § 3477 . According to 22 MRSA §3479 , even if one is not a so-called mandated reporter, the Adult Protective Services Act allows any person to make a report “when that person has reasonable cause to suspect an incapacitated or dependent adult has been or is at substantial risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation.” This is called optional reporting. Any person who, in good faith, reports or participates in a related adult protection investigation “is immune from any civil liability that might otherwise result from these actions, including, but not limited to, any civil liability that might otherwise arise under state or local laws or rules regarding confidentiality of information,” under 22 MRSA §3479-A . For more information on mandated reporters, see the Maine Department of Health and Human Services website.

What is abuse?
The Adult Protective Services Act defines abuse as “the infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or cruel punishment that causes or is likely to cause physical harm or pain or mental anguish; sexual abuse or sexual exploitation; or the intentional, knowing or reckless deprivation of essential needs.” The definition of abuse includes acts and omissions. ( 22 MRSA §3472 )

What is neglect?
The Adult Protective Services Act defines neglect as “a threat to an adult's health or welfare by physical or mental injury or impairment, deprivation of essential needs or lack of protection from these.” ( 22 MRSA §3472 )

What is exploitation?
The Adult Protective Services Act defines exploitation as “the illegal or improper use of an incapacitated or dependent adult or that adult's resources for another's profit or advantage.” ( 22 MRSA §3472 )
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Emancipation of teenagers

Emancipation is a legal process conducted through the District Court which declares a minor over the age of  16 to be independent of  his or her parents or guardians. The qualifications and procedures for doing this are found in Title 15, section. 3506-A. The Maine Judicial Branch site has a PDF version of the petition form and the Kids Legal website has a good discussion of emancipation. 
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Exchange or return of merchandise

There are no Maine statutes regarding general merchandise returns. It’s strictly a matter of store policy, which should be posted in the store. 
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Felonies and misdemeanors Maine classifies crimes by categories of seriousness A through E, with A being the most serious and E the least.  The terms felony and misdemeanor are not used in Maine statutes.  Black’s Law Dictionary defines a felony as a “serious crime usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death.”  Misdemeanor is defined as a crime that is “less serious than a felony and is usually punishable by a fine, penalty, forfeiture or confinement (usually for a brief term) in a place other than prison.”  Comparing these definitions and Title 17-A, section 1252, it would appear that Maine’s classes A, B, and C could be considered felonies and classes D and E misdemeanors.
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Fireworks

In 2011 the Legislature made changes to the fireworks laws in Maine (P.L. 2011, ch . 416 ). This law differentiates fireworks, defined in 9-A MRSA § 221-A (4), from consumer fireworks, defined in 9-A MRSA § 221-A(1-A). The law governing consumer fireworks states , that “the legislative body of a municipality may adopt an ordinance to prohibit or restrict the sale or use of consumer fireworks within the municipality .” Therefore, even though the state law has changed, consumer fireworks may still be prohibited or restricted in your municipality (9-A MRSA § 223-A). The Maine State Fire Marshal has compiled a list of municipal ordinances about consumer fireworks prohibitions and restrictions. For more information on the difference between fireworks, consumer fireworks and display/commercial grade fireworks, see the Maine State Fire Marshal ’s website on Fireworks Laws and Regulations. For more information on federal fireworks laws and fireworks laws in other states, see the State Fire Marshal ’s website on Federal and State Regulations. For information on obtaining a license to sell consumer fireworks in Maine, see the State Fire Marshal ’s website on Consumer Fireworks in Maine. For a recent article on this topic, see the February 2012 Maine Townsman
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Gift certificates and cards

We are often asked about cardholder's rights, especially about how long one has to redeem a gift certificate that has no explicit expiration date.  This is covered by Title 33, section 1953, sub-section 1, paragraph G of the Maine Revised Statutes. Also see sections 1952 and 1956. For additional information see the State Treasurer's website on unclaimed property and section 29.31 of the Maine Attorney General's Consumer Law Guide.

The related issue of gift cards is discussed on the website of the Maine Bureau of Financial Institutions.
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Grandparents' visitation rights The Maine Legislature originally passed the grandparents' visitation bill in 1991.  The current law provides a mechanism for grandparents to petition for visitations with their grandchildren, if certain criteria are met.  This act is in Title 19-A, sections 1801-1805.  Pine Tree Legal also has a nice webpage about grandparents' visitation.
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Hate crimes

Statutes concerning hate crimes are found in several places in the statutes.  They are primarily anti-discrimination statutes.  The relevant statutory titles and sections are: Title 5, sections 4651-4660-A, and  4681;  and Title 17, sections. 2931-2932.
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Holidays/Sunday sales The statutory reference for legal holidays in Maine can be found in Title 4, section 1051.  The language allowing Sunday sales in large retail establishments is found in Title 17, section 3204.  The language in this section is particularly dense and rather confusing.  There are only three days on which these stores must be closed, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.  According to section 3203, motor vehicle dealerships are not allowed to be open on Sundays and holidays.
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Home Construction/ repair Contracts Both the Maine Revised Statutes and the Attorney General’s Consumer Law  Guide have information about home construction/repair contracts in some detail, including such things as change orders, warranty clauses, and written contracts.  This information can be found in the statutes in Title 10, sections 1486-1490 and in Chapters 17 and 18 of the AG’s Consumer Law Guide.
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Homestead exemption

In Maine, up to $10,000 of the homestead of a permanent resident who has owned a homestead in Maine for the last 12 months is exempt from taxation (36 MRSA § 683). This is known as the homestead exemption. The exemption may not exceed $10,000 even if the title to the homestead is held jointly or in common with others, but it may be apportioned among the owners who reside on the property. (36 MRSA § 683). Also, the actual amount exempted may be adjusted depending on the just value of the property (36 MRSA § 683).

What is a homestead?
A homestead is “any residential property, including cooperative property, in this State assessed as real property owned by an applicant or held in a revocable living trust for the benefit of the applicant and occupied by the applicant as the applicant’s permanent residence or owned by a cooperative housing corporation and occupied as a permanent residence by resident who is a qualifying shareholder.” (36 MRSA § 681)

What does a homestead not include?
A homestead “does not include any real property used solely for commercial purposes.” (36 MRSA § 681)

What is “just value”?
Just value is defined in the statutes as “only that value arising from presently possible land use alternatives to which the particular parcel of land being valued may be put.” (36 MRSA §701-A)What is a permanent residence?
A permanent residence “means that place where an individual has a true, fixed and permanent home and principal establishment to which the individual, whenever absent, has the intention of returning.” (36 MRSA § 681).

Can I have more than one permanent residence?
Maine law states that “an individual may have only one permanent residence at a time.” (36 MRSA § 681)

Who determines if I have a permanent residence in this state?
Maine law states the assessor determines if an applicant for a homestead exemption has a permanent residence in Maine. The assessor may consider formal declarations, informal statements, place of employment, previous permanent residence, voter registration, driver’s license, certificate of motor vehicle registration, income tax returns, motor vehicle excise tax and military residence (36 MRSA § 682)

When do I apply for the homestead exemption?
The application must be filed on or before April 1st of the year on which the taxes are based. (36 MRSA § 684)

What if I move?
Any property owned who receives a homestead exemption “shall notify the assessor promptly when the ownership or use of the property changes so as to change the qualification of the property for an exemption.” (36 MRSA § 684)

For more information on homestead exemptions or an application, see the website at Maine Revenue Services or contact your municipal assessor’s office.
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Implied Warranties Implied warranties apply to consumer goods, both new and used (except used cars).  This warranty is explained in detail in the Attorney General’s Consumer Law Guide, Chapter 4.  Implied warranties are also covered in the statutes in Title 11, section 2-314.
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Intestate succession When someone dies without a valid will, they are said to have died intestate.  The division of an intestate person’s estate is governed by several sections of the Maine Revised Statutes in the probate code.  These sections may be found in Title 18-A, sections 2-201 – 2-405.
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Landlord-tenant issues Landlord-tenant issues are covered in the Maine Revised Statutes in Title 14, sections 6001-6038 and in Chapters 14 and 16 of the Attorney General’s Consumer Law Guide.  Both of these sources cover such topics as leases, evictions, habitability and security deposits.
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Lemon law Maine has a law in Title10, sections 1161-1169 that is designed to help consumers who have purchased defective new cars.  There is additional information in Chapter 6 and 7 of the Attorney General’s Consumer Law Guide. The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division also has regulations on this subject in Chapter 106 of the department’s rules.  Chapter 9 in the Consumer Law Guide contains helpful information for those contemplating purchasing a used vehicle.
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Living wills Living wills are officially known as Advanced Health Care Directives.  They are used to give directions about the type of health care you desire if you are incapacitated.  The statutes outlining the provisions for these directives can be found in Title 18-A, sections 5-801 – 5-817.  Section 5-804 gives an outline of the current form that can be followed to write your own directive.  If you would prefer a form that can be filled in directly, the Bureau of Elder and Adult Services in the Department of Human Services has a form online that can be downloaded from http://www.maine.gov/dhs/beas/resource/adf.pdf
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Medical records, Confidentiality & access

Statutes concerning the confidentiality of medical records can be found in Title 22, section 1711-C of the Maine Revised Statutes.  The Attorney General also has a helpful webpage on confidentiality. Access to one’s medical records is addressed in Title 22, section 1711 of the Maine Revised Statutes.   
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Motor vehicle modifications

Modifications made to motor vehicles are subject to state statutes. These statutes are broken down into specific rules in the Maine Department of Public Safety Maine State Police’s Maine Motor Vehicle Inspection Manual.

Lift Kits
Maine law sets the maximum height, width and length of vehicles ( 29-A MRSA §2380 and 29-A MRSA §2390 ) . The Maine Motor Vehicle Inspection Manual details lift kit requirements as follows: Suspension lifts or lowering lifts are permitted on any vehicle that is not equipped with an anti-lock braking system if they are manufactured by an after market manufacturer, are designed for the make and model vehicle on which they are installed, and if the kit is installed according to the manufacturer's recommendations. The entire kit must be used. Body lifts may not use more than a three-inch spacer . See Maine Motor Vehicle Inspection Manual, Section 170.10 (J) . For more information see Maine Department of Public Safety Maine State Police’s Maine Motor Vehicle Inspection Manual or call the Motor Vehicle Inspection Program at (207) 624-8939.

Window Tinting
Maine law establishes standards for window tinting ( 29-A MRSA §1916 ) . In order to comply with the statute, some vehicle owners may be able to obtain a tint certificate, or a certificate of compliance approved by the Bureau of the Maine State Police that states that the vehicle meets the standards for light transmittance. (For more information about tint certificates, see 29-A MRSA §1916 .) The Maine Motor Vehicle Inspection Manual further details window tinting requirements as follows: Vehicle’s windows must not be composed of, covered with, or treated with any reflective material. See Maine Motor Vehicle Inspection Manual, Section 170.7 (C).

  • Vehicle must not have tinted windows if the owner cannot provide a certificate of compliance with the standards for light transmittance approved by the Bureau of the Maine State Police. Any window tinting treatment or covering must be removed if it fails to meet the inspection standard. However, exempt from this rule are multi-purpose vehicles (sport utility vehicles, pick-up trucks, and vans) equipped with tinted glass on the rear side windows and rear window. See Maine Motor Vehicle Inspection Manual, Section 170.7 (C).
For more information see Maine Department of Public Safety Maine State Police’s Maine Motor Vehicle Inspection Manual or call the Motor Vehicle Inspection Program at (207) 624-8939.
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People’s veto

The people’s veto is a constitutional provision (Art. 4, pt.3, sec. 17) that allows the citizens of Maine, through the initiative and referendum process to repeal a piece of legislation passed by the legislature.  The people’s veto came into being as part of the initiative and referendum process enacted in 1909.  To repeal a particular piece of legislation, a petition must be presented within 90 days of legislative adjournment and meet the signature requirements of any initiative proposal.  If the petition is certified, the law is set aside until the issue can be voted on at the next election.  See a list of people's vetoes.


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"Right to Know"

Maine’s “Right to know” law is referenced in the statutes as “Freedom of access”.  This law concerns access to public meetings and public records.  It is in the Maine Revised Statutes at Title 1, sections 401-410 .   Additional information and links are available at www.maine.gov/foaa/ 

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Road associations The statutes governing private road associations can be found in Title 23, sections 3101-3105.  These statutes detail the formation of a private road association and such an association's powers and duties.  A Guide to Forming  Road Associations, it's Appendices and a wealth of related information is available on the DEP's Road Associations website. DEP also maintains a webpage specifically about camp roads, including the Gravel Road Maintenance Manual.  Additional resources in the Law Library include two Maine State Bar Association Real Estate Institute publications . Both are large three-ring binders that contain chapters on road associations.
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Sex Offender Registration This is often referred to as "Meghan's law." The statutes can be found in Title 34-A, sections 11201-11256.  Some of these sections have various effective dates and notes of conflicts with other laws in them, thus making the sections somewhat confusing to read.  The regulations can be found in Chapter 14 of the Bureau of State Police rules.  The  Sex Offender Registry  is searchable and available online.
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Smoking prohibitions

The law concerning work place smoking and smoking in public places can be found in Title 22, sections 1541-1545.  There are also DHS regulations for smoking in public places as well as in the workplace.  

Until the enactment of  P.L. 2003, Chapter 493, effective Jan. 1, 2004, bars and taverns were exempted from the prohibition against smoking in public places.  Chapter 493 simply deleted the exemption. Private clubs, such as the Elks and American Legion, are only open to members and their invited guests so they are not considered "public places" and smoking is allowed there if the club so chooses.
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Studded snow tires The regulations governing the use of studded tires on Maine roads are in the "Motor Vehicle Inspection Manual" issued by the Department of Public Safety.  The manual is Chapter 1 of the Department’s rules and the section relevant to studded tires is unit 2, sections 8.1.9 and 8.1.10.  There is also a statute on studded tires at Title 29-A, section 1919 
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Unit pricing There are no statutes concerning unit pricing in Maine.  One does see unit pricing in some grocery stores, but it is a strictly voluntary practice.  
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Vacation (casual) rental tax A seven percent tax on temporary or casual rentals of homes, condos, camps, etc. went into effect July 1, 2005. Here is a document of explanation from the Bureau of Revenue Services, as well as an instructional bulletin on rental of living quarters. Return to top


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