Articles Posted in Texting while driving

By Webb Law Firm, With Law Offices Near Me in Portland Maine and Saco ME

No other nation except the United States has the Fourth Amendment protections that require a police officer to have information of a crime having been committed before “seizing” a person. When a driver is on the highway, the act of a government law officer seizing that person happens by signaling with emergency lights, using siren or even hand signals, to pull over.

Since the US Supreme Court clarified the issue in 1961, in Mapp v. Ohio, the federal constitutional rule applies to but state and federal officers. Many of the nation’s best criminal cases have been appeals from DUI-OUI arrests made after an officer acted on a hunch, and did not have reasonable suspicion.

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There is no easy answer here. It depends on your situation and why you got the ticket. When we talk about tickets in this blog, we mean civil traffic violations such as failure to signal, speeding (under 30MPH over the speed limit), failure to stop at a stop sign, and other minor traffic infractions. We are not referring to more serious criminal driving charges like Operating Under the Influence, Criminal Speeding (over 30MPH over the speed limit), or Illegally Passing a School Bus. For any criminal charge, you should always have an attorney.

If you have a Commercial Driver Licenses (CDL), drive for a living, or have any concern that the ticket could cause you to lose your license, you should absolutely speak with an attorney. Any person whose driving record shows an accumulation of 12 demerit points for convictions or adjudications within a one year period may have his or her license, permit or privilege to operate suspended for a period of up to 15 days.

Here is a short list of examples of some of the demerit point values for common traffic tickets:

texting-while-driving-300x199Last Friday Maine passed a law to ban texting while driving.  The new law, which goes into effect on September 1, 2011, prohibits reading or manually composing any written electronic message while driving.  The penalty is a $100 fine.  It is not a crime for which jail can be imposed.  It is a traffic violation.

It is interesting that the penalty is only $100 or so for an offense that clearly impairs a person’s ability to drive.  In Maine a DUI carries a penalty of 364 days in jail, but the level of impairment is so low that you can be convicted even if the level of alcohol or drugs in your system does not impair your driving in any way.  So now if you are weaving down the road texting, the worst that can happen is a fine.  But if you have a tiny bit of physical impairment from alcohol that does not appreciably affect your driving, you can go to jail for a year.

Here is the text of the new law.

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