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Bill that would restrict enforcement of bans on cell phone use while driving tabled by Montana House

Cell Phone bill .jpg
Posted at 5:36 PM, Apr 05, 2023

There are only two states in the country without any statewide laws when it comes to cell phone use while driving, Montana being one them.
“I teach them that texting and driving is absolutely one of the most dangerous things they can do,” says Driving Education Instructor Jerry Bauer.
Bauer has been teaching new drivers off and on for nearly 50 years; he teaches his students to avoid distractions on the road.

“I try to help them recognize also that texting and driving is very addictive,” says Bauer.

According to the Montana Department of Transportation, there were only 15 locations around Montana with a ban on the use of mobile devices while driving. 

"Its called a hands-free ordinance and that was put in put into existence in 2012,” says Bozeman Police Deputy Chief Andy Knight.

Montana Senate Bill 206 would not allow any restrictions on cell phone use, including texting and driving unless the local ordinances allow for hands-free use.

In Butte-Silver Bow, Sheriff Ed Lester told MTN News there is an exemption only for hands-free with your mobile devices while you drive. In  Bozeman, you cannot use your phone while you drive unless you’re hands-free. Knight says the current ordinance would likely not be affected by the Senate bill.

“It shouldn’t affect us and our ability to make an enforcement; it does allow for us as long as there is a community has a law that allows people to use hands-free devices such as Bluetooth,” says Knight.

Knight says Bozeman’s law is meant to discourage drivers from being distracted. 

“What it’s trying to discourage is that distracted driving where you’re texting, which could get somebody into a crash or worse,” says Knight.

Both Knight and Bauer encourage drivers to just stay off your phone.

“We want to let people know to be safe and put the phone down,” says Knight.

Senate Bill 206 was tabled in the Montana House on Tuesday.