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Criminal Mischief (09/18/2019)

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Hands-free laws taking effect

AUGUSTA – If you’re reading this, you’d better not be reading it on your phone while driving your car.

On Sept. 19, Maine joins 19 other states in banning all drivers from using handheld cell phones and other devices while driving. This policy impacts all usage – phone calls, texting, using maps – while behind the wheel. Unless the car is pulled over and stopped, using a handheld device is illegal.

That means that even if you’re stopped at a stop light or in a construction zone, using your handheld device means you are breaking the law.

And don’t think that just because it’s a new law, there’s going to be some kind of grace period. All indications are that law enforcement officials are taking this very seriously. This isn’t about warnings; if they catch you, they will cite you.

It won’t be cheap, either. The fine for a first offense is $50, but the cost escalates quickly – subsequent violations will set you back $250.

To be clear, this means no using your hands to manipulate a phone or other device AT ALL. If you are behind the wheel and the car is moving, a phone in your hand is against the law.

Phones that are secured in a cradle or otherwise fixed to the vehicle are permitted. Operators are allowed a single swipe or touch to activate hands-free functionality. The phone may be mounted anywhere that keeps the driver’s sightline clear.

The only time you can be in the driver’s seat and legally hold and operate your device is if the vehicle is pulled over in a safe spot and not obstructing the flow of traffic. Any other usage is illegal.

It should be noted that there are further restrictions on those drivers possessed of an intermediate license, such as drivers under the age of 18. Anyone under the age of 18 with an intermediate license is forbidden from using cellphones or electronic devices while driving, with no exceptions for secured phones or the like. Those with learner’s permits are likewise restricted.

In short, while you may still use your devices in very specific ways, their operation is significantly reined in. Any time you hold your device in your hand while driving – or even execute more than a single swipe of a screen on a fixed phone – you are breaking the law.

It’s all intended to keep our eyes on the road and not on our screens. Drive safely.

Maine clarifies pot tracking policy

AUGUSTA (AP) — Maine’s marijuana policy office is seeking to curb confusion about the state’s new track-and-trace system, which is required by law.

The Maine Office of Marijuana Policy conducted a demonstration on Monday of a cloud-based software product that will use barcode-based tags and labels to track the growth and distribution of marijuana products in the state. Individual tags and labels will cost 25 cents.

The Portland Press Herald reports some marijuana industry members were concerned that would mean hundreds of tags would be required for the life of one plant, which can be processed into many products. The marijuana office later clarified that individual products available for sale would not require individual labels.

The office says the track and trace system is required in the state’s marijuana legalization act.

Mobile opioid misuse campaign

BANGOR (AP) — A mobile trailer staged as a typical teenager’s bedroom is touring Maine to highlight the reality of warning signs of opioid misuse in young people.

State government officials, lawmakers and community members have toured the trailer, which has made stops in Hallowell and Kennebunk.

The RX Abuse Leadership Initiative of Maine, for example, has hosted the trailer in the Hallowell parking lot of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine.

Participants who tour the trailer can identify a number of signs that a young person is misusing substances.

Plans for an appearance in Bangor are in the works.

Last modified on Wednesday, 18 September 2019 08:39

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