April 17, 2003
Contact: Dan A. Gwadosky
Committee Unanimously Support
Proposed Licensing Changes for Youngest Drivers
AUGUSTA - The Legislature's
Joint Standing Committee on Transportation offered unanimous support,
today, for LD 1439, "An Act to Protect Young Drivers and Passengers."
The bill, developed by Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky in consultation
with the law enforcement community, driver education instructors, several
high school classes and others, makes changes to Maine's driver license
laws to ensure that young people gain valuable driving experience under
low risk conditions.
Tragically, Maine lost an average of more than one young person a week
last year in fatal crashes. An average of 60 young people were injured
in car crashes during that same 7 day period.
"We are gratified that the members of the Transportation Committee
have taken decisive action to curtail the tragic rate of fatalities
and crashes involving young people on Maine roadways," stated Secretary
Gwadosky. "Every state that has adopted similar measures has seen
a dramatic reduction in teen crashes. We look forward to working with
the full legislature to ensure adoption of this bill."
The bill introduces a graduated driver licensing system, moving Maine
from a two-step licensing procedure to a three-step system. Where Maine
currently uses a learner's permit and an unrestricted license, the new
system would introduce an intermediate license period between the permit
phase and the unrestricted license phase. The plan calls for young drivers
to have a permit for at least six months before earning an intermediate
license, which includes passenger, operating hour, and cell phone use
restrictions. Upon holding an intermediate license for at least six
consecutive violation-free months, young drivers will earn an unrestricted
license. The proposal also includes a mandatory suspension provision
for young drivers who are convicted of moving violations.
The measure will now go before the full House and Senate for consideration.
"I am confident that passage of this bill will greatly enhance
the safety of Maine's young drivers and their passengers, leading to
fewer fatalities and injuries," said State Senator Christine Savage,
the bill's lead sponsor.