Maine Graduated Drivers License
Just like other states that care about traffic safety, Maine has its own version of a graduated drivers license program. The Maine graduated license program features a multi-step licensing process, mandatory drivers education classes and strict punishment for those who do not follow the rules and restrictions. The graduated drivers license law applies only to drivers who are under the age of 21, so if you are over this age, you do not have to meet the GDL requirements. Please remember that the Maine graduated drivers license system is there to ensure your safety, following the GDL rules and regulations is in your best interest.
The reasons that led to the development of the Maine graduated license system are simple - too many people get hurt on our roads every day. According to statistics, 40,000 people die on American roads every year. That's a population of a small town, imagine a town being wiped out every year. The number of accidents increase every year, mostly due to to the fact that the population is growing and our roads become more congested, hence we are presented with more challenging driving environment. Car manufacturers due a great job of developing new safety features that reduce your chances of being involved in a traffic accident, but in the end it's all about the driver and his skills.
Unfortunately, if you are one of those people who just received their first Maine drivers license, chances are that you don't have much when driving skills are in question. Of course, you are able to operate a vehicle, you can get it started, go in the direction that you want and generally follow the traffic, but you don't have much driving experience yet and there is a good chance that you won't be able to deal with a situation that is slightly less regular. Drivers training is very important and it gives you a solid base to build your driving skills upon, however experience is the only thing that can make you a safe and confident driver. Experienced drivers can usually identify a possible problem on the road well before it happens and take actions to prevent or avoid it. This is what is called the defensive driving techniques and this is what you as a young inexperienced driver lack.
The graduated drivers license system was developed with one thing in mind - creating a safe driving environment for inexperienced drivers and help them get through their first years of driving. The system uses a number of restrictions and additional requirements all working together to prevent drivers from making the most common mistakes behind the wheel. As the driver gain the essential experience, all restrictions are removed.
You may be wondering why the Maine graduated license program applies to drivers who are under 21 years of age only and not everyone. The reason why this age group was singled out is because drivers of this age have the highest crash rates among all age groups. In fact, traffic accidents is a number one cause of death for people between 15 and 20 years of age. Young drivers frequently fail to correctly predict the consequences of their actions, which may lead to drastic events. On the contrary, older drivers recognize the dangers of driving and take more precautions while operating a vehicle, hence they are excused from the same driving requirements as youngsters.
Graduated Drivers License Stages
The way the program works in Maine is that the licensing procedure is divided into a number of separate steps. Each step has its own requirements and as the applicants meets them, he/she is granted with additional driving privileges. The whole process culminates in the applicant receiving a full unrestricted driver license.
At the moment, the Maine graduated drivers license program has the following stages:
- Learners permit
- Restricted license
- Provisional license
- Unrestricted drivers license
Although drivers over the age of 21 are excused from observing the graduated license requirements, they still have to go through the provisional drivers license stage. During this stage, conviction of a traffic violation automatically results in a mandatory 30 days suspension. The provisional license period for drivers of this age lasts 12 months.
Applying for a learners permit is the first step of the Maine graduated license program. The minimum age for applying for a permit is 15, however even before you submit your application, you must complete a state-approved Maine drivers education course. The class can be completed either through high school or one of the commercial driving schools in your area. You will be required to submit your drivers education certificate at the time of your application for a permit.
Once done with drivers ed, you can visit the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and take your Maine BMV permit test. The test is given on the appointment-only basis, so make sure to call and schedule it in advance. The test will cover the state driving rules, traffic signs and safe driving practices, you may check out one of the Maine practice permit tests if you want to see what the real exam is like.
Once you have your Maine learners permit, you can get behind the wheel and start driving, provided there is a supervising driver seated next to you. A supervising driver must be at least 20 years of age and must have held a drivers license for at least two years. Drivers under the age of 18 must observe other permit restrictions, such as a cell phone ban.
The learners permit must be held for at least 6 months and the holder must be at least 16 years of age before he/she can take the Maine drivers test. During this stage, the driver must log a minimum of 35 hours of driving, including 5 hours at nighttime. These hours must be logged on the form provided by the Secretary of State and the form must be signed by a parent, legal guardian or a step-parent. If the driver does not have a parent, legal guardian or step-parent, the form must be signed by a driver's employer.
If the above requirements are met, the driver is issued with a drivers license. If you are under the age of 18, your licensed is restricted and you have to observe the following rules:
- Curfew. There is a nighttime driving restriction, you are prohibited from driving between midnight and 5 a.m.
- Passenger restrictions. You cannot carry any passengers who are not members of your household unless there is a supervising driver at least 20 years of age with a minimum of two years of driving experience seated next to you.
These restrictions last for 180 days. If you are caught breaking these rules, the restricted period will be extended for another 180 days. The official Maine drivers handbook contains more information on the consequences of breaking the graduated license rules.
Provisional Drivers License
According to the Maine graduated drivers license program, all first time license applicants are issued with a provisional drivers license. For drivers under the age of 21, the provisional period is two years. For everyone else, the provision period is one year.
If you are convicted of a traffic violation during the provisional license period, your driving privilege is suspended for 30 days. Subsequent offenses may be punished more severely.
Cell Phone Ban
Under the graduated driver license law, drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cell phones and other communication devices while driving. The only exception that can be made is when you are making a call to an emergency service.