Maine’s Cellphone-Use & Texting-While-Driving Laws

Read about Maine’s distracted driving laws and the costs of a violation.

Maine’s distracted driving laws generally prohibit text messaging and talking on a cellphone for all drivers. This article discusses the specifics of what the laws prohibit and the costs of a texting or cellphone ticket.

Texting and Cellphone Restrictions for Underage Drivers

Motorists who are driving with a learner’s permit or are licensed while under the age of 18 and have had their license for 270 days or less are completely prohibited from using a cellphone or a handheld electronic device while operating a motor vehicle.

Handheld electronic devices. For purposes of the underage distracted driving law, a “handheld electronic device” includes all electronics that aren’t a part of the operating equipment of the vehicle.

Operating a vehicle. As used in Maine’s distracted driving laws, to “operate” a vehicle means driving on a public way with the motor running. This definition includes temporary stops for things like traffic, a stop sign, or a red signal.

Use of a device. The underage distracted driving prohibition applies to any use of a cellphone or handheld electronic device, including talking into, manipulating, or otherwise interacting with the phone or device.

Penalties. A learner’s permit violation is an infraction and carries a fine of $25 to $500. All other violations are also infractions, but the convicted motorist faces fines of $250 to $500 and a license suspension of 60 days for a first offense, 180 days for a second offense, and one year for a third or subsequence offense.

Texting While Operating a Vehicle

In Maine, all drivers are prohibited from text messaging on a portable electronic device while driving.

Portable electronic device. For purposes of the texting law, a “portable electronic device” means all electronics that aren’t a part of the operating equipment of the vehicle, including cellphones.

Text messaging. The texting-while-driving restriction applies to reading and manually composing electronic communications, including instant messages, emails, and regular text messages. However, the definition doesn’t ban using a GPS or navigation system while operating a vehicle.

Penalties. For a first texting ticket, the motorist is looking at a minimum $250 fine. For a second or subsequent texting violation within a three-year period, the driver faces at least $500 in fines and mandatory license suspension. The license suspension periods are 30 days for second offenses, 60 days for a third offense, and 90 days for a fourth or subsequent offense within three years.

Cellphone Restrictions for All Drivers

Generally, all Maine drivers are prohibited from using a handheld cellphone while operating a vehicle.

Hands-free cellphone use. Drivers who are at least 18 years old can use a cellphone while operating a vehicle so long as they are using the phone in hands-free mode.

Penalties. A cellphone violation is an infraction and carries a fine of at least $50 for a first offense and at least $250 for a second or subsequent offense.

Other Possible Charges

Depending on the circumstances, a texting or cellphone violation could also lead to a “driving to endanger” conviction. And if one of these violations results in the death of another person, vehicular homicide charges are a possibility.

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