DEAR SUN SPOTS: Has the No Handheld Devices Law changed? I see a lot of people driving and talking on their phones. — No name, no town

ANSWER: Maine’s law on distracted driving and text messaging has not changed. Some drivers are just ignoring it and in so doing, endanger themselves, other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. Unfortunately, it’s still a very common occurrence to see others using their phones so I am publishing the law found at https://tinyurl.com/yxrvtse7 as a reminder:

29-A MRS §2121 prohibits operation of a motor vehicle on a public way “while using, manipulating, talking into or otherwise interacting with a handheld electronic device or mobile telephone. Exceptions are made for communicating with law enforcement or emergency services under ‘emergency circumstances,’ using a device in hands-free mode (if licensed and 18 years of age or older), and commercial and school bus drivers ‘using a handheld electronic device or mobile telephone within the scope of the person’s employment as permitted under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.’

29-A MRS §2119 prohibits operation of a motor vehicle while text messaging, which is defined as using a handheld electronic device for ‘reading or manually composing electronic communications’, including text messages, instant messages, and e-mail (see 29-A MRS §101(80-B)). 29-A MRS §2119 prescribes penalties for its violation, which can include a fine of not less than $250 for a first offense and a minimum 30-day license suspension for repeat offenders.

29-A MRS §2118 defines distracted driving as operating a motor vehicle while engaging in an activity ‘that is not necessary to the operation of the vehicle’ and ‘that actually impairs, or would reasonably be expected to impair, the ability of the person to safely operate the vehicle.’ When combined with other factors established by §2118, distracted driving can contribute to failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle, which is a traffic infraction.

29-A MRS §1304 and §1311 prohibit persons with a learner’s permit and licensed drivers under 18, respectively, from operating a motor vehicle ‘on a public way while using, manipulating, talking into or otherwise interacting with a handheld electronic device or mobile telephone.”

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I really enjoy reading your column every day. The comics beat you, but that’s it. I’d like to thank some very special people. They work hard to give us such wonderful, unique music, especially during this pandemic.

The Oasis of Music, originally at the Trinity Church on Bates Street in Lewiston, is now performing their music at Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul. It’s still on Wednesdays from 12:30 to 1 p.m. They will be advertising in the local Sun Journal before the Wednesday performances. It’s a free performance, but donations help them a lot and it’s well worth it. They won’t have any shows during the holiday season, but will continue throughout the winter.

They are following all the guidelines to keep everyone safe. You do need to wear a mask. We hope to see a lot of people at these amazing performances. It is fun to meet new friends. — Anita, Lewiston

ANSWER: You are right. The Oasis of Music is good medicine for the heart and soul. Everyone is welcome and the performances by local musicians are truly something to look forward to, especially during the long winter.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name. We won’t use it if you ask us not to. Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected].

 


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