A new Maine law took effect Thursday that prohibits drivers from using their handheld phones for any purpose, whether talking, texting or scrolling through their Instagram feeds.
So when Officer Adam Oko of the Orono Police Department saw a man talking on his phone while driving south on Stillwater Avenue on Thursday afternoon, he immediately pulled his cruiser out of a gas station parking lot, trailed the man’s truck for a couple hundred feet and flipped on his siren.
Once the man pulled over, Oko collected his paperwork and told him that he was violating the new law. The driver, who was in his late 30s, explained to Oko that he had recently been caring for a newborn baby and had not been able to watch any news reports on the law change.
Finally, after checking the man’s driving record, Oko let him off with a warning and continued his patrol.
Although some of his colleagues had already stopped drivers Thursday for allegedly violating the new law, it was the first time Oko had.
Over the course of an hour-and-a-half in the afternoon on a day when officers expected to be doing some education on the new law, he drove up and down several of Orono’s main roads, stopping in a few spots — the gas station on Stillwater Avenue, a storage facility on Park Street — to watch for drivers who were clearly on their phones or violating other laws.