Committee on Transportation Mulls Penalty Increases

The Committee on Transportation has voted ought not to pass LD 656, An Act to Increase the Penalty for Passing a School Bus With Red Lights Flashing. The committee has yet to issue an official decision regarding LD 546, An act that increases the penalty for passing a stopped emergency vehicles with emergency lights on.

Currently, passing a stopped school bus carries a $250 fine for the 1st offense and a 30 day license suspension for the 2nd offense.  LD 546 argues for a $2000 fine, 90 day suspension and 6 demerit points for a first offense.

Six individuals/groups submitted testimony on LD 656, with 3 speaking for the bill and 3 against.  The Maine Assoc. of Criminal Defense Lawyers testified against the bill with the MACDL pointing out legality issues of having such high penalties for a Class E crime. The committee has recommended that the legislature not pass LD 656.

Three testified in support of LD 546, while two testified against it. The ACLU of ME, speaking against both LD 546 & LD 656, argued the financial penalties for either bill would disproportionately hurt lower income citizens.