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What Are Traffic Violations and Infractions in Maine?

A traffic violation is a critical infringement of Maine’s traffic laws that attract varying penalties, including expensive fines, license suspension, or high insurance rates. Traffic violations are categorized as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Some examples of traffic violations include hit and run, crossing the median, not using a seatbelt, and not stopping for pedestrians. On the other hand, a traffic infraction is the least severe traffic offense in Maine. The punishment includes fine via traffic citations. Some examples of infractions are refusing to stop when asked to and speeding. The Judicial Branch Violations Bureau handles Maine traffic tickets through a centralized procedure.

What Are Felony Traffic Violations in Maine?

A traffic violation is generally probed as a felony when a person is injured or property is destroyed. The penalty includes imprisonment of a year or more in the state prison. Maine is one of many states in the United States with a “three-strike” law that can lead to a life sentence when there’s a third felony traffic violation.

The three-strike law is also known as the habitual offender law, and it is enacted when an individual gets three or more sentences on traffic violations within five years. Punishments for repeat violators include suspension or permanent loss of driver’s license, permanent mark on the driver’s criminal record, and increased insurance rates. Other repercussions include towing, impounding of the car used during the felony, and a minimum of three years in jail, especially if the violator has multiple violations within five years. Felonies are divided into different classes in Maine. Class A being the highest and Class E being the lowest. However, there are two major classes of felony traffic violations in Maine;

Standard Driving to Endanger: The driver will be incarcerated for about six months and required to pay a fine of about $1000. The driver’s license will be suspended for at least 30 days to 180 days.

Aggravated Driving to Endanger: Classified a Class C felony, and the driver will be imprisoned for about five years. Traffic violators are also required to pay a fine of $5000, and the offender’s driver’s license will be suspended between 180 days - 2 years.

Hiring a professional attorney can prove quite useful, as the attorney may “plead down” a felony offense to a misdemeanor, hence reducing the penalties.

Examples of Felony Traffic Violations in Maine

Instances of felony traffic violations in Maine include;

  • Operating Under the Influence (OUI)
  • Operating After Suspension (OAS)
  • Dangerous driving
  • Operating a vehicle without a license
  • Racing with other cars
  • Tailgating
  • Inability to report an accident involving injury, death, or property damage
  • Eluding (or attempting to elude) a police officer
  • Passing a police roadblock
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Criminal speeding
  • Repeated offense or multiple OUI convictions

What Are Traffic Misdemeanors in Maine?

Traffic violations that are not as serious as a felony are categorized as misdemeanors. Most traffic misdemeanors generally include driving without a license or driving without insurance. In Maine, an individual charged with a traffic misdemeanor maintains civil rights, including voting and professional rights, unlike a felon.

Traffic Misdemeanors penalties include one-year detention in county jail, community service, probation, and fines. Nevertheless, misdemeanors remain on a driver’s record for life unless a petition is issued successfully, and the court grants the driver expungement of records.

Maine’s statutes classify all crimes other than murder under Class A, B, or C as felonies and Class D & E as misdemeanors. Class D & E misdemeanors have a maximum punishment of $1000 fine and a jail term of 180 days.

Examples of Traffic Misdemeanors in Maine

Traffic misconducts classified as a misdemeanor in Maine include;

  • Driving recklessly
  • Driving without insurance
  • Driving without a license
  • Weaving through traffic
  • Ignoring traffic signs and signals
  • Hit and run
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI/DWI)

What Constitutes a Traffic Infraction in Maine?

Following the Maine Revised Statute, traffic infraction occurs when a motorist violates the rules guiding road users. Infractions are recurring non-criminal offenses that are considered minor and do not lead to a jail term. Generally, traffic tickets are issued for all violations. The most common penalty attached to citations are fines, which are to be paid within a given period and could have dire consequences if not paid as at when due. Motorists have a 20-day window to respond to traffic infractions allegedly committed, and this is so for offenders that wish to contest the tickets and violators entering a guilty plea. It is noteworthy that in Maine, all motorists have a right to a traffic court hearing, and traffic matters are classified under civil cases by the Maine Judicial Branch. The Judicial Branch Violations Bureau handles traffic citations handed to motorists through a centralized repository system known as the Odyssey Portal, which can be used to make ticket payments and search and view traffic infraction records.

Besides fines and jail terms, traffic rule-breakers are penalized by applying demerit points to the individual’s driving record. Under the traffic law, the point system is a method of rating an individual’s overall driving conduct and ability to follow the road rules. Therefore, accruing up to twelve (12) demerit points carries an additional penalty of license suspension even though the demerit points get removed from the driving record after a year. On the plus side, for every year in which a motorist does not commit a traffic infraction or violation, a credit is added to the individual’s driving record, which can help cancel out a demerit point received within a calendar year, and this can only be done once annually.

Examples of Traffic Infractions in Maine

Examples of traffic infractions in Maine are;

  • Operating under the influence
  • Running a red light
  • Reckless or careless driving
  • Illegal lane changes
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving with a suspended license
  • Assault with a motor vehicle

How Do Traffic Tickets Work in Maine?

A traffic ticket is a document handed to a road user for breaking a road rule or regulation, and it usually shows the penalty attached. When a driver is issued a traffic ticket, a response to the ticket must be within 20 days, and this is done by filling out the back of the ticket, which has two options of either admitted or contested, before sending in the ticket.

In Maine, every motorist has a right to request a traffic hearing, which gives room to contest the traffic ticket and aim for a dismissal or reduction in fine as it has been found that most tickets are issued and based on little evidence, and it might be hard to prove in a court. The Maine Violations Bureau sets the case for hearing before a district court judge. Hiring a traffic law attorney who understands the system is advantageous as the lawyer can answer the ticket and request a hearing on the offender’s behalf. With an attorney, the violator does not have to attend the court hearing. The attorney can also try to reach a resolution with the law enforcement officer before the hearing or even challenge the violation appropriately.

The State of Maine does not prosecute traffic tickets or traffic hearings with a lawyer; instead, the law enforcement officer who issued the citation is in charge of prosecuting the case in court. The traffic court judges will always advise that the parties involved try to reach a compromise before the case proceeds. The possible results from a traffic case are dismissal of the ticket because of flimsy evidence to back up the ticket or the prosecuting party deciding to file the ticket, which means if the motorist does not commit a traffic infraction in six months, the ticket is dismissed. Another outcome that could occur is the ticket getting reduced, thereby leading to a reduction in fine and a reduced or no demerit point.

Moving violations are known to be traffic infractions that happen while a vehicle is in motion. Examples of moving violations are driving while under the influence of alcohol or drug substances, and reckless driving, etc. On the contrary, non-moving violations are focused on road regulations and not the motion of the vehicle or lack of it. Examples of non-moving violations in Maine are driving with a suspended license and the use of a phone while driving.

Speeding tickets in Maine are issued to motorists who exceed the required speed limit, and each ticket is based on how fast over the limit a road user is going. Based on a chart, each speeding ticket carry a different fine;

  • For 1 to 9 mph over the speed limit - $119.00
  • For 10 to 14 mph over the speed limit - $137.00
  • For 15 to 19 mph over the speed limit - $185.00
  • For 25 to 29 mph over the speed limit - $263.00

Drivers who exceed the speed limits in areas designated as school or construction zones get double of the normal fines. Also, because Maine uses a demerit point system, 4 points are added to the motorist’s driving record for driving between 1 and 15 mph above the speed limit and 6 points for speeding between 16 and 30 mph above the speed limit. Parking tickets are issued when a vehicle is parked in a space that has a parking meter without paying. The city administration handles parking meters.

Are Traffic/Driving Records Public in Maine?

The Maine Freedom of Access Act permits the citizens of Maine to obtain records preserved by public bodies. Driving records of Maine residents are maintained by the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which is saddled with making the records available when a request is made. Some information present on the record includes vehicle registration and license history, suspension or revocation of license, accidents involved in driver’s license status, cases of driving under the influence, and the driver’s personal information. According to the Federal Driver Privacy Protection Act of 1994, the bearer’s details such as photographs, address, social security number, medical information, name, and license number, are protected from the public. Maine driving records are obtainable by other parties like employers, licensed security outfits, law enforcement agencies, judicial bodies, and insurance companies.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How to Find Traffic/Driving Records in Maine?

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Maine offers driving records of motorists in different forms. The documents are available as three-year records, ten-year records, and official certified records, in paper and electronic form. The three-year history covers information including tickets collected, points accumulated over the period, and license suspensions. It costs $5 to acquire a three-year record. On the other hand, the ten-year record contains more information like violations committed over the last decade, accidents that happened, and accumulated points. It costs $10 to obtain a ten-year driving record from the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Persons who wish to get records and copies of a conviction, accident report, and suspension or revocation notice present on the records, can make a written request to;

Bureau of Motor Vehicles

Driver License Services Division

29 State House Station

Augusta, Maine 04333–0029

Information to be included in the written request is the requestor’s full name on the driver’s license, current living address, appropriate fee, and date of birth. The price to make a copy of a driving record is $5 and an additional $1 for certified copies with the individual’s personal information. Driving records are also obtainable online, and it costs $7 to obtain a 3-year record and $12 for a 10-year record.

Can Traffic Violation and Infractions be Expunged/Sealed in Maine?

The State of Maine has no expungement statute; therefore, there is no guiding process for sealing or expunging traffic violation or infraction records. For traffic violations and infractions classified as criminal offenses such as operating under the influence, driving to endanger, operating while license is suspended or revoked, and refusing to stop for a law enforcement officer, the convictions can be made confidential. However, sealed records can still be accessed by criminal justice agencies or law enforcement agencies. Methods to restrict access to convictions from traffic offenses include getting a pardon from the state’s Governor or securing a court order. To get a pardon from the Governor, the violator can only apply five years after the conviction, but an operating under the influence conviction is not eligible for sealing. The same applies to the court order. Only offenders charged with Class E misdemeanors may apply for a court order to make conviction information confidential.

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