Bill would ban methadone for truck drivers
NAPLES – A bill aiming to add methadone to the list of banned substances for commercial truck drivers, spurred by a fatal accident last year in Naples, is gaining bipartisan support in Augusta.
LD 966, "An Act Regarding the Use of Methadone by Operators of Commercial Motor Vehicles," is sponsored by state Rep. Anne Graham, a Democrat representing Gray and North Yarmouth. While campaigning door-to-door in Gray last year, Graham met the widow of Shannon Ronan, a UPS delivery driver in Naples who was struck from behind by a truck driver who was using methadone at the time of the accident.
Graham said the bill "has nothing to do" with banning methadone use in general, but is targeted toward banning its use by commercial vehicle operators. A pediatric nurse practitioner, Graham said methadone, a replacement for heroin that is dispensed in clinics, causes drowsiness.
"There is a federal law which bans methadone use for drivers of commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds. But in Maine that piece has been left out. What we're asking is that we adhere to the federal law here in Maine," Graham said Wednesday.
The bill was heard by the Criminal Justice Committee on Monday. Rep. Rich Cebra, R-Naples, spoke in support of Graham's bill.
"Shannon (Ronan) was a part of Naples, and it was a real tragedy when he was killed. Everybody loved him. So this bill has my support and it has very strong bipartisan support," Cebra said Wednesday.
Ronan was killed Dec. 15, 2009, when his UPS truck was struck from behind by Michael Hanrahan, 43, of Windham, who was driving his Time Warner Cable truck west on Route 302 in front of Great Northern Docks in downtown Naples. Ronan's truck was stopped waiting to make a left-hand turn and the rear-end collision propelled Ronan into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer. He was killed instantly. The other drivers were not seriously injured.
In May 2010, the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office decided against pursuing criminal charges against Hanrahan and instead charged him with failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle, a traffic infraction that carries with it a $119 fine.
Not satisfied with the district attorney's handling of the case, Ronan's family attorney, Tom Hallett of the Hallett Law Firm in Portland, said his own investigation of the accident found that Hanrahan was "inattentive" as he was driving through Naples and that he had used methadone the morning of the accident, something the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department confirmed.
Cebra said the accident affected Naples residents deeply and that the proposed bill is needed.
"This bill is a response to what happened with Shannon where the driver was using methadone and driving a commercial vehicle," Cebra said. "Hopefully this will help prevent something like that from happening again."
This comes from a Maine news source called The Lakes Weekly and the original link
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