AUGUSTA (AP) – Leading proponents of a state effort to crack down on bad drivers and scofflaw motorists gathered at the State House on Wednesday to call attention to the fruit of their labor.

Known as Tina’s Law, the new statute redefines which drivers are covered by mandatory minimum sentences, creates the crime of aggravated operating after habitual offender revocation and imposes new penalties.

For habitual offenders who drive drunk, drive to endanger or commit other serious offenses after having their licenses revoked or suspended, mandatory penalties range from $500 to $3,000 and six months to five years in jail.

The courts can sentence a driver to up to five years and order fines of up to $5,000 for causing an accident in which another person is injured.

A driver convicted of causing a fatality could spend a decade in prison and face up to $20,000 in fines.

The law also targets drivers with three or more violations of major motor vehicle violations in five years, or 10 or more moving violations in five years, for $500 minimum fines and 30-day jail sentences if caught driving after suspension or revocation.

The law is named for a woman who died of injuries in a Maine Turnpike accident involving a trucker with a lengthy record of offenses.

“Today is the day that we’ve all been working for,” said state Rep. Darlene Curley, R-Scarborough, a sponsor of the legislation who is the Republican nominee for Maine’s 1st Congressional District seat.

Curley was joined by state Sen. Bill Diamond, a former secretary of state and sponsor of the new law who is Senate chairman of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Others taking part in the conference included Evert Fowle, the Kennebec County district attorney; Col. Craig Poulin, chief of the Maine state police; and Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion.

Also participating were members of the family of Tina Turcotte of Scarborough, who was 40 when she died of injuries sustained in a July 2005 accident in which her car was struck from behind by a truck in a construction zone along the turnpike in Hallowell.

Wednesday marked the 90th day after the close of the 2006 legislative session – the day scores of bills that were enacted during the five-month session became law.

Another high-profile measure that took effect is one that enacts more severe sentencing guidelines and stricter monitoring of convicted sex offenders. The law sets a base sentence of 20 years for a first offense of gross sexual assault of a minor less than 12 years of age, with lifetime probation and electronic monitoring.

Also going on the books are new laws to expand privacy protections, to protect consumers and require more disclosures by lobbyists.

Curley sought to summarize the intent of Tina’s Law on Wednesday: “The message is clear: Enough’s enough.”

In the 1st District, incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Allen is being challenged by Curley and independent Dexter Kamilewicz.


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