For Immediate Release
May 28, 2003
Contact: Dan A. Gwadosky
Young Driver Plan Becoming Law
AUGUSTA - A new graduated driver license system intended
to reduce crashes and save lives among young motorists in Maine was
signed into law today in a State House ceremony.
"This significant piece of legislation should enhance public safety,
and encourage the responsible operation of motor vehicles by our youngest,
most inexperienced, drivers," said Governor John Baldacci. "The
changes included in LD 1439 represent meaningful progress, and the culmination
of a collaborative process spearheaded by Secretary Gwadosky. He deserves
much credit for recognizing the need for reform."
The graduated license system - LD 1439, "An Act to Protect Young
Drivers and Passengers" - was developed by Secretary of State Dan
A. Gwadosky in consultation with the law enforcement community, driver
education instructors, several high school classes and others. The law
makes changes to Maine's driver license laws to ensure that young people
gain valuable driving experience under low risk conditions. The plan
received unanimous support from the Legislature's Joint Standing Committee
on Transportation in April, was subsequently approved by the Legislature
and was signed today by Governor Baldacci.
"This law will help save young lives," said Secretary Gwadosky.
"Young people are dying at the rate of one per week in motor vehicle
crashes in Maine. I am confident this law will help reduce that tragic
The new law moves Maine from a two-step licensing system to a 3-step
graduated license system. It introduces an intermediate license between
the current learner's permit and unrestricted license stages. Each of
the first two stages carries certain restrictions.
"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.
To earn an intermediate license, drivers must be at least 16 years old
and have operated under a learner's permit for at least six months.
Drivers with an intermediate license may not operate a motor vehicle
from midnight to 5 a.m. To graduate to an unrestricted license, drivers
must operate under the intermediate license for six consecutive months
without a violation. Also, drivers with a learner's permit or intermediate
license may not drive while using a cell phone. The plan also includes
a mandatory suspension provision for young drivers who are convicted
of moving violations.
The new law will be effective 90 days from the date of the adjournment
of the 121st Legislature.