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Missoula bans cell-phone use while driving

Missoula is set to join other Montana cities in banning cell-phone use while driving. Texting while driving was already banned in the city in 2009, but starting on Dec. 5, the restriction will extend to any hand-held use of a cell phone while driving. The ordinance goes into effect for bicycles and motorcycles as well.

Many car accident victims and other Montanans who are concerned about road safety are welcoming the new ordinance. For the first 60 days, however, Missoula police will only give out warnings. That is, unless a person using a cell phone crashes into another motorist.

There are other exceptions as well. For example, workers who use two-way radios are generally exempt from being cited, as are operators of emergency vehicles or people calling for medical help. Hands-free devices are also still permitted.

Once the 60-day warning period has expired, first-time violators will have to pay a $100 fine, and a violation within the next 12 months will carry a $150 fine. Any time a person who causes a crash while using a hand-held cell phone will have to pay a $350 penalty.

In addition to paying for these traffic violations, drivers in Montana can also be held liable in civil court if their cell-phone use causes injuries to another party. Negligent or distracted driving is a serious problem, and people who have suffered because of another person's illegal cell-phone use may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.

If you would like to learn more about holding distracted drivers accountable, please visit our Bozeman car accident site. Our firm helps individuals who have been injured in auto accidents.

Source: kpax.com, "Missoula cell phone ordinance takes effect Wednesday," Dennis Bragg, Dec. 4, 2012

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