DWI Crackdown Is Among New Maine Laws

Augusta, Maine (ap) — A new Maine law that aims to crack down on people with multiple drunken driving violations is among several that kicked in Friday, roughly three months after the Democratic-led Legislature wrapped up its short, combative session.

The new law isn’t expected to affect many people, but supporters say it will still be a big step toward making the state’s roads safer from the most dangerous repeat drunken drivers.

Under the law, people with a felony operating-under-the-influence conviction on their record would be charged with a felony for subsequent offenses, which can result in up to 10 years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines, said Walt McKee, a defense attorney in Augusta. A person is charged with a felony if a victim is killed or seriously injured or if it’s his or her third offense in 10 years.

Currently, if someone’s felony conviction is more than 10 years old, then the next offense is considered a misdemeanor, which carries a much smaller penalty.

The law — which Gov. Paul LePage vetoed because he said it doesn’t capture enough drunken driving offenders — is among dozens that took effect 90 days after lawmakers finished their session in May.