Missoula’s Cellphone Ban is in Effect
Only a few weeks ago, the Missoula city council decided to enact a cellphone while driving ban. Today, December 5 is the first day that law enforcement will step in to carry out that ban.
"There will be a period of 60 days where people who violate the new cell phone ordinance can be pulled over and they'll be given a warning and the officers will educate the driver about the ordinance," explains Missoula Police Captain Chris Odlin"after the first 60 days it will be possible to get a ticket."
That 60 day period will end on February 3, 2013.
The official wording of the ordinance prohibits "the use of mobile telephones and other electronic communication devices while simultaneously operating a motor vehicle, bicycle or any other device defined as a vehicle in Montana Code Annotated, Title 61, Part 1 on a public highway and providing for penalties and certain exceptions."
The penalties under the new decision involve a minimum $100 fine for a first offense, as well a $350 fine for an accident in which a cell phone is found to have been used at the time of a crash.
Penalties for driving while using a cellphone in Missoula:
- The minimum penalty for a first offense shall be $100 which may not be suspended or waived up to a maximum of $5,300
- The minimum penalty for a second or subsequent offense occurring within a twelve-month time period of any prior cell phone ordinance offense shall be $150 which may not be suspended or waived up to a maximum of $500;
- If any vehicle crash investigation determines that a cell phone was in use by a vehicle operator involved in the crash at the time the crash occurred, the minimum fine shall be $350 which may not be suspended or waived up to a maximum of $500;
Exceptions to the law include the use of "hands free devices" as well as the use of a cellphone while a vehicle is not in gear or by passengers in a vehicle.
"This provision shall not apply to persons using or powering on a 'hands-free device.' A 'hands-free device' is an external device that connects to a wireless telephone, wireless communications device or electronic communications device that allows use of the device without touching the telephone or wireless or electronic communications device with one’s hands, and includes voice-activated technologies that can be utilized without touching the device. Use of a hands-free device is permitted while operating a motor vehicle provided the driver does not touch the wireless telephone or wireless or electronic communications device with one’s hands while operating a motor vehicle."