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Missoula cell ban enforcement starts

By Kyle Benjamin, Weekend Anchor, kbenjamin@keci.com
Published On: Dec 05 2012 03:56:09 PM MST
Updated On: Dec 05 2012 05:58:22 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Missoula finally joined other Montana cities in banning hand-held cell phone use behind the wheel and handlebars back in November.

The ordinance went into effect December 5, and drivers NBC Montana talked to welcome the change, and have been preparing to change the way they drive.

"I've been practicing," says one Missoula woman. "I've been putting the phone away and not using it at lights and things."

Another driver says, "[My phone] is going in the pocket and is going to stay there."

We did catch one woman mid-cell phone conversation at the corner of Mullan and Reserve. She said she did not know of the ban, but thinks it is a good move, and will look into getting a hands-free device.

Drivers have a 60-day window before Missoula Police start issuing tickets. Police will enforce the ordinance starting today, but will only issue warnings through February 5.

Those same police officers plan to lead by example.

"We are making Bluetooth available to all the officers and vehicles, so except in some extreme situations, we expect officers to be using Bluetooth and hands-free devices just like everyone else," says Captain Chris Odlin of the Missoula Police Department.