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After summons for OAS, Portland School Board member promises to be a better driver

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After summons for OAS, Portland School Board member promises to be a better driver

PORTLAND — A spotty driving record has landed a newly elected School Board member in minor legal trouble.

Pious Ali, 44, was issued a summons Dec. 20 in Falmouth on a charge of driving with a suspended license. The summons shed light on a driving record that includes three crashes in three years.

Ali, who was elected as an at-large member of the School Board in November, was unaware he was driving with a suspended license when he was pulled over for allegedly driving "too slowly" on U.S. Route 1 at the Martin's Point bridge, he said in a telephone interview Monday.

A Falmouth Police Department spokesman was unavailable to confirm Ali's description of the incident.

Ali said the license suspension stemmed from three factors: an address change, a missed hearing, and three crashes in three years.

In Maine, any driver who has been involved in three crashes in three years is required by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to attend an administrative hearing, Ali said. (A reporter's call to the secretary of state's office for confirmation wasn't immediately returned.) Ali said he didn't receive notification of the hearing because he changed his address in February, when he moved to Portland from Cape Elizabeth.

Ali's most recent accident was during the summer, but he said he wasn't sure of the exact date. At that point, his mailing address had been updated, but his driver's license still reflected his old address in Cape Elizabeth.

Ali surmised that the hearing notification from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles wasn't forwarded from his old address, and that's why he missed the hearing. His license, which still listed the Cape Elizabeth address at the time of the Dec. 20 summons, was suspended a week earlier, on Dec. 11, he said.

Ali said Monday he was unaware that driver's licenses must be updated shortly after changing addresses.

Ali's appearance on the Portland ballot in November complied with city election rules, according to Election Administrator Bud Philbrick. Candidates must be residents of the city for three months before filing papers; Ali said he established residency in February, and the filing deadline was Aug. 26.

Ali said all three crashes were similar. In each case, he accidentally rear-ended a vehicle in front of him. All crashes were minor, he said, and one was the result of snowy conditions.

Ali said he has taken steps to reinstate his license, including a formal request for a new hearing date, "so I can explain why I had three accidents within three years."

He also said the driving troubles are behind him.

"I will make sure that I will be a role model," he said. "Driving is a very serious activity. I will pay more attention and follow the rules."

Ali was born in the African nation of Ghana. He moved to New York in 2000, and two years later moved to Maine.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.