Starting Tuesday, Feb. 5 drivers using cellphones without a hand-free device will be ticketed and fined by Missoula police.

Traffic Sergeant Greg Amundsen with the Missoula police department says for the last few weeks police have been advising drivers using their cell phones that the new ordinance prohibits the use of cell phones if one hand is being used to hold the phone.

Amundsen says devices such as Bluetooth or other hand-free cell phones are allowed, but those observed using a traditional cellphone, either calling or texting, are subject to a ticket with fines starting at $100 which may not be suspended or waived. The fines can go up to $500 depending on the number of citations.

Amundsen says police officers are hoping the ordinance will lead to a decrease in distracted driving. He says other distractions, such as eating, or putting on make-up while driving are not covered by any statute, however, can be part of an investigation if there is a crash.

With daylight coming earlier in the morning, police can more easily see when drivers are using their cellphones illegally.

Sergeant Greg Amundsen

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