When the new Maine law banning handheld devices while driving passed, Bangor police officers had to figure out a way to find a way to use their phones while cruising in their older cars that weren’t equipped with Bluetooth.
The solution was a rechargeable Motorola Bluetooth speaker that could be hooked on to the visor, Sgt. Jason Stuart said. Now even the oldest Bangor police cruisers — two Ford Crown Victorias — are Bluetooth-enabled and compliant with the new law.
On a rainy Monday afternoon, Stuart and some other officers from the police department were at Quirk Auto on Hogan Road as part of a hands-free Bluetooth setup event. From 3 to 7 p.m., dealership employees and police officers helped each driver who came to the garage connect his or her phone to their car’s Bluetooth.
“We’re showing anyone who wants to show up how to hook their smartphone up to the Bluetooth on their vehicle if they have those features available,” said Sgt. Wade Betters. “Some people may need help doing it, and we’re just here to provide that service today.”
Just after the event started at 3 p.m, Paula Paradis drove into the Quirk Auto garage to get her Bluetooth on her Chevrolet to pair with her phone.
“I needed to resolve this so I could answer my phone while driving,” Paradis said. “I try not to talk on the phone when I’m in the car, but sometimes there’s just some emergencies, so you really need it.”
Sales associate Jeromy Hamel from Quirk Auto got into the passenger seat and walked Paradis through the steps to connect her phone to the car’s Bluetooth system, use the buttons on her steering wheel to make and answer calls, and find a contact in her address book with just voice commands.
After the tutorial, Paradis made a phone call to test the new feature.
Around the same time, Keith Robertson drove into the garage in a white Port Harbor Marine truck that wasn’t Bluetooth-equipped. Most of the Holden-based company’s 50 trucks that are used to transport boats are not Bluetooth-equipped, which is why Robertson was there to find a solution to apply to all the company vehicles.
“We deliver their boats or pick up their boats, so we need to speak to the customers when we’re arriving,” Robertson said. “Our concern was a lot of our trucks are not Bluetooth-equipped, so we needed to know what it took for our trucks to be 100 percent legal with the new law.”
Since the law passed, Bangor police have written at least one ticket for noncompliance with the hands-free law. With this event, Betters said, officers are looking to educate drivers who want to use their Bluetooth so that they can legally talk on their phones while driving but need help getting the technology set up.
“We don’t want to have to write a ticket,” he said. “We’re hoping for voluntary compliance.”