Courts, BMV act after license retained after fatal crash

Law Firm News/West Virginia 2022/03/14 15:44   Bookmark and Share
The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles and court officials have scrambled to close a gap in tracking and sharing information about criminal convictions that should result in license suspensions.

The problem surfaced when a man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter following a fatal crash during a police pursuit was arrested for causing another crash while being chased by police. Two others were injured, one of them critically, in the crash on March 4 in Paris, Maine.

The man being chased by police shouldn’t have had a license after pleading guilty last summer to the earlier crash that killed a 70-year-old driver.

A one-page document that would have allowed the BMV to process his suspension was never sent by court staff despite the BMV’s requests, and court officials suggested it was not their duty to send the paperwork because the conviction was not technically considered a driving offense under state law, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The state court’s response hinged on a technicality — he was convicted not of a driving offense but manslaughter. In Maine, there’s no separate conviction for “vehicular manslaughter.”

On Friday, officials including Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and Valerie Stanfill, chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, came to an agreement on correcting the problem, the newspaper reported.

But the Portland Press Herald reported that representatives of the courts and secretary of state declined to discuss specifics.

The agreement with the courts will encompass convictions connected to use of a vehicle but not specifically included in the driving statute, said Emily Cook, spokesperson for Bellows.
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