RUMFORD — A series of new laws aimed at encouraging responsible driving, especially by young adults, goes into effect Aug. 30, Rumford police Chief Stacy Carter said Wednesday in a news release.
He said the Maine Chiefs of Police Association recently voted to support a "strong stance" when it comes to enforcing LD 1912.
It includes the following laws:
* When a young driver obtains a new license, current intermediate license restrictions (no passengers except immediate family members; no driving between midnight and 5 a.m.; no cellphone use) are extended from six months to nine months.
* A fine of no less than $250 and no more than $500 will be assessed for a violation of any of the above listed intermediate license restrictions.
* During the first two years a young driver holds a license, any violations obtained will result in the following occurring before driving privileges will be restored: 30-day license suspension for first offense; 180-day license suspension for second offense; one-year license suspension for third and subsequent offenses; must complete a driver improvement course; and must pay a $50 reinstatement fee.
* During the first two years a young driver holds a license, any committed major offense (criminal speed, operating under the influence, operating after suspension) will result in the following before driving privileges will be restored (in addition to any current requirements that may be mandatory based on the specific conviction):
* License suspension will be based on current law or the new suspension periods as listed above, whichever is longer.
* Must complete a driver improvement course.
* Must complete up to 60 hours of community service.
* Must successfully complete a driving examination (both written and road).
* Must pay a $200 reinstatement fee.
Additionally, LD 1912 increases the minimum fine for texting and driving from $100 to $250 for all drivers.
Chief Carter said Wednesday afternoon that the Maine Chiefs of Police is taking a strong stance on the new drivers' laws that have come out "to try to keep the younger generation safe and driving appropriately.
"They are really emphasizing that these new laws are the result of tragedies that have happened," he said. "There's been a lot of young drivers killed."
According to the news release, Maine State Police say since Christmas 2011 there have been 27 deaths attributed to young drivers ages 15-24 on Maine highways.
Carter said the laws were all enhanced "to try and keep these new drivers safe and to put some teeth into the law."
He said the Maine Chiefs of Police Association hopes that strict enforcement of LD 1912 will foster compliance, which will in turn help reduce crashes, injuries and deaths.
His officers are experiencing reports of drivers continuing to text and drive, he said.
"I think that we hear more reports about it than by actually seeing it, but we know that there's still a lot of young drivers that are texting," he said. "We have found some, but we haven't found a lot. We can't be everywhere."
Carter said adults should also become familiar with the new changes.
"Texting and driving isn't just young people that are at risk from it," he said.
The Maine Chiefs of Police Association has encouraged law enforcement agencies across the state to get the word out to save lives by gaining voluntary compliance.
The association also urges parents to encourage and enforce young driver compliance to keep them safe.