Most of us rely on traffic signs and signals to tell us what we have to do when driving. But what if there are no signs or symbols? What do you do then?

Then, you need to know the rules, and you especially need to know the right-of-way laws, since most accidents are caused by motorists who do not know when the right of way should be yielded. The rules in Maine are simple and straightforward, and designed for the protection of motorists, pedestrians, and yourself.

Summary of right-of-way laws in Maine

The right-of-way laws in Maine can be summarized as follows:

  • Pedestrians have the right of way, always, whether in marked or unmarked crosswalks, and whether or not there are traffic lights present.

  • If you are entering a roadway from an alley or driveway, you must yield the right of way to both pedestrians and vehicles that are on the road.

  • You may not pass a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk.

  • If you are entering an intersection, vehicles that are already in the intersection have the right of way.

  • If you enter an intersection at the same time as another motorist, the car on the right has the right of way.

  • If you are entering a traffic circle, cars that are already in the circle have the right of way.

  • If you are turning left, and another vehicle is coming towards you, that vehicle has the right of way.

  • If you are entering a road from a private road, the vehicle on the public road has the right of way.

  • You must always yield to emergency vehicles if they are flashing their lights and sounding a siren or air horn. If you are already in an intersection, proceed, and then pull over and wait for the emergency vehicles to pass.

Common misconceptions about right-of-way laws in Maine

Many drivers do not realize that there is two levels of “failure to yield.” In most states, if you fail to yield to an emergency vehicle, it is a misdemeanor. In Maine, failing to yield to an emergency vehicle is actually a crime. That means a whole lot more than just points added to your license and a hefty fine – it means that you could actually go to jail.

Penalties for failing to yield

In Maine, failure to yield the right of way will automatically result in four demerit points being assigned to your driver’s license. For each offense, you will be given a fine of $50. You will also be required to pay a surcharge of $85, but this will be a flat fee regardless of how many moving violations you have incurred. Multiple moving violations could result in the suspension of your license.

For more information, refer to the State of Maine Motorist Handbook and Study Guide, pages 32-33, 35, and 62.

This article originally appeared on as The Guide to Right-of-Way Laws in Maine and was authored by Valerie Johnston.

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