Monday night the Missoula City Council voted to pass a new city ordinance making it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while using a cell phone or any other electronic communication device.
Missoula Police say there will be a 90-day grace period during which people will be educated about the new ordinance and signage will be put up letting people know it's no longer OK to talk on your phone and drive in Missoula.
According to the new ordinance anything defined as a vehicle by Montana motor vehicle laws will qualify under this new ordinance. This means it will be illegal to talk on a cell phone while riding a bicycle.
Breaking the new cell phone ban will cost drivers a pretty penny. The fine for your first offense will cost you between $100 and $300. A second offense will cost you anywhere from $150 to $500.
If you are in a car accident and the investigation determines a cell phone was being used by the driver of the vehicle you will be charged an extra fine of anywhere between $350 and $500.
In all three cases fees will not be suspended or waived.
Fifty percent of the fine monies collected for violation of this ordinance will go back to the city general fund. This pays for traffic regulation signage and construction and education efforts relating to distracted driving, including texting and talking on the phone while driving.