Maine's distracted driving laws generally prohibit text messaging and talking on a cell phone for all drivers. This article discusses the specifics of what the laws prohibit and the costs of a texting or cell phone ticket.
Maine has two separate distracted driving laws: one that applies to texting and another that covers talking on a phone while driving. However, the restrictions differ depending on the age of the driver.
In Maine, all drivers are prohibited from text messaging on a portable electronic device while driving. (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 29-A, § 2119.)
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 cell phones.
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.
Generally, all Maine drivers are prohibited from using a handheld cell phone while operating a vehicle. (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 29-A, § 2121.)
Hands-free cell phone use. Drivers who are at least 18 years old can use a cell phone while operating a vehicle so long as they are using the phone in hands-free mode.
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 cell phone or a handheld electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 29-A, § 1311.)
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 cell phone or handheld electronic device, including talking into, manipulating, or otherwise interacting with the phone or device.
The penalties for a distracted driving violation depend on the driver's history and the type of violation.
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.
A cell phone 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.
A learner's permit violation is an infraction and carries a fine of $250 to $500. All other violations are also infractions, but the convicted motorist faces 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.