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What does one drink too many risk?

A new law in Maine, LD 1729, brings into focus the lifetime consequences of operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OUI) – particularly for habitual offenders. The new law now looks at a driver's 10-year record when considering punishment for felony OUI convictions. But there are even more long-term consequences for any OUI conviction. Here's how it impacts insurance, foreign travel and family disruption. Payne-bw-blogger copy

Maine's newly revised OUI law increases license suspensions for people with previous convictions. The law now reads:

Unless a longer period of suspension is otherwise provided by law and imposed by the court, the Secretary of State shall suspend the license of a person convicted of OUI for the following minimum periods:

A. One hundred and fifty days, if the person has one OUI conviction within a 10-year period;

B. Three years, if the person has 2 OUI offenses within a 10-year period;

C. Six years, if the person has 3 OUI offenses within a 10-year period;

E. Eight years, if the person has 4 or more OUI offenses within a 10-year period.

Any drunken driving conviction is going to impact obtaining affordable auto insurance. For first-time offenders, some insurance companies see a gold mine but not without risks. Newly convicted drunken drivers often are considered far more cautious, however, they will pay as much as double the premium for the next three to five years. For insurance companies willing to accept such risk, profits can be substantial with these newly reformed drivers.

An OUI conviction also can make umbrella liability coverage more difficult and certainly more expensive to obtain. Umbrella coverage is the backstop that protects personal or business assets beyond standard policy limits. A typical personal umbrella policy will provide a million dollars of additional coverage. However, if someone is considered a risk for injuring or killing others because of a drunken driving problem, standard insurance companies may not offer umbrella coverage.

Other lines of insurance that could be impacted are life and disability insurance. A drunken driver increases the probability of a loss and, therefore, must be charged far higher rates and may only find coverage in what is known as the non-standard market. And those are just insurance issues.

If your travel plans include visiting Canada, an OUI conviction with a blood alcohol level greater than 0.081% in the last five years will mean you'll be refused entry by our neighbors to the North. Other offenses such as reckless driving, misdemeanors and drug related offenses also will prevent entry. According to the lawdictionary.org, the burden of declaring one's criminal record is on the visitor. "Anyone coming into the country is required by Canadian law to declare the conviction to the customs agent whether asked or not. If a person does not make such a declaration and then are discovered or questioned after entry, that person can be charged for illegally entering the country, which is far more serious."

I actually saw a gentleman at a large social outing escorted back across the border by the Canadian Mounted Police when it was determined he had a prior conviction. Not only was his trip disrupted but his reputation was publicly tarnished.

Then there is the family disruption to consider. Imagine not being able to drive to work, drop off the kids, visit the doctor or do errands just because you chose to have one too many drinks. So, let's review once again how many drinks are too many.

As the drinkinganddriving.org website states, the only safe blood alcohol content (BAC) for driving is 0.00. In most of North America, a BAC of 0.08 is considered legal intoxication though some states impose penalties for a BAC of 0.05. Also note: anyone under the age of 21 with a BAC higher than 0.00 is subject to legal action.

It takes roughly 45 minutes for single drink of alcohol to clear your system. That means that for each drink, a wait of 45 minutes is suggested before even considering driving. The far more sensible option is to have a designated driver or cab take care of your transportation needs. That one sober decision could keep you on the road and out of a lifetime of trouble.

(Tony Payne is business development director at Clark Insurance. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; 207-523-2213)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 00:19

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CMP, Nissan team up on charging stations for plug-in electric vehicles

People who drive plug-in electric vehicles now have two places to go in the Greater Portland area for a quick charge, courtesy of Central Maine Power Co. and Nissan, CMP reported in a press release. The charging stations from Nissan were provided as part of CMP's Plug-In Electric Vehicle Grant Program. The program is designed to encourage the use of plug-in hybrid and electric cars in Maine, while gathering data about their use.

Representatives from the cities of Portland and South Portland, several environmental groups, other PEV Grant Program recipients, automobile dealers, elected officials and others joined the utility Thursday as it unveiled the DC Quick Charge stations at the South Portland Community Center on Nelson Road and at the Fore Street Parking Garage in Portland. The quick chargers are believed to be the first installed in Greater Portland, and can bring a PEV from 0 to 80 percent charge in 30 minutes, a press release noted.

"CMP started our program by adding two Chevy Volts and 11 hybrid bucket trucks to our own fleet. We also installed charging stations at five locations throughout our service area," said CMP President and CEO Sara Burns at the event at the South Portland Community Center. "When we saw how well electric vehicles were working for us, it only made sense to encourage other organizations to give them a try."

Last Updated on Monday, 28 July 2014 20:35

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Coastal Humane hopes to finish strong in Rachael Ray ASPCA challenge

Christmas in July at the Coastal Humane Society in Brunswick is a pet-adoption effort that the shelter staff hopes will help the shelter continue building momentum in a national competition.

Over the weekend, animals will be up for adoption starting at noon Saturday. "All weekend long, we're cutting adoption fees in half," the shelter announced.
The Coastal Humane Society has broken out with a strong lead in the Rachael Ray ASPCA $100,000 Challenge, a nationwide adoption competition among animal shelters to place more animals in need into new, compassionate homes, the Brunswick-based shelter reported recently. Coastal Humane Society was the only shelter in New England chosen to compete.
In the first month of the Challenge, Coastal Humane placed a total of 352 animals in new homes, 175 more animals than in the same month one year ago, the shelter reported. That puts the shelter in first place in the Challenge's Division One category (shelters caring for 1,500-2,500 animals annually), and sixth nationwide among all five divisions.
"We're competing against shelters that take in up to 11,000 animals or more annually, so we are extremely pleased to have done so well, " said Dr. Mandie Wehr, director of shelter operations and shelter veterinarian for Coastal Humane. The win comes with a $5,000 "Fast Start" grant from the ASPCA, which Coastal says it will use to find additional good, permanent homes for more of its animals. The "Fast Start Grant" is awarded to the agency in each division that has saved the most lives in the first month of competition.
If the animal shelter ultimately places first in its division at the conclusion of the Challenge on Aug. 31, the nonprofit will be eligible for $25,000 in grant money. If the shelter places first among all competing shelters, the grant award is $100,000.
For more information, visit http://www.coastalhumanesociety.org. For updates on the competition, visit https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/100kchallenge.

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 July 2014 15:59

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Partridge Foundation grants $1 million to MOFGA for farmer training

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the group behind the Common Ground Fair, announced that it has received a $1 million gift from the Partridge Foundation to establish an endowment in support of its new farmer training programs.
"This Partridge Foundation gift represents a tremendous vote of confidence in MOFGA and an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen our innovative new farmer training programs. We thank the foundation for its generous support," said Ted Quaday, MOFGA's executive director, in a press release.
The Partridge Foundation has also pledged an additional $1 million to the organization if MOFGA can raise a matching amount over the next 18 months, the press release reported.
"This is a matching challenge that has the potential to bring our educational programs endowment to $3 million by the end of 2015," said Quaday. "We could not be more excited and enthused. We are reaching out to our many members and donors and inviting them to join us in building long-term support for these crucial programs."
The Partridge Foundation joined in announcing the gift with an expression of strong support for MOFGA and its educational programs.
"Partridge Foundation is proud to seed MOFGA's work in encouraging a new generation of organic farmers," the foundation stated in a statement. "The matching grant format of our award promotes both our founder Polly Guth's deep interest in healthful food and farming in her native New England and her zest for launching good small projects into broader-based appreciation and support. Partridge deeply hopes new donations will total $1 million so Partridge can give its second million to MOFGA."

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 July 2014 16:01

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