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Hang up or pay up, Missoula cops can ticket Tuesday

Published On: Feb 04 2013 04:19:07 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Missoula drivers can get ready to hang up or pay up. The warning phase for the city's cell phone ban is over, cops can start ticketing Tuesday.

The city of Missoula is prepared with signs and billboards to remind people they can't use their hand-held devices while driving. And if they get caught it will cost them at least $100 and possibly up to $500.

The Missoula Police Department's been handing out warnings, they say close to 40 in the 60-day period leading up to the real thing. And they've found out it's not the easiest law to enforce.

“You have to be able to see into someone's vehicle in order to see that they're on the phone. It's not completely an easy ordinance to enforce,” said Missoula Police Captain Chris Odlin.

But that's not stopping officers from trying and they'll be out to hand out tickets, not warnings starting Tuesday.

Some Missoulians we talked to are all for the cell phone ban, saying there are other options, like hands-free devices or just pulling off the road. Others don't like it, some even called it ridiculous. And most people we talked to say they think the $100 fine is too high.

But like it or not now it's the law in Missoula.

“There's a lot more people using blue tooth devices,” said Odlin. “And I've heard a lot just say ‘now when I get a call I just pull over or there's nothing that important that I need to talk on the phone until I get to my destination’.”

Missoula's not the only Montana city where you'll need to go hands-free to make a call. Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena and Whitefish all have similar ordinances.