Could Montana Be Better About Distracted Driving?
Driving in Montana is interesting. At any point, you might see folks texting, talking, or eating while operating a vehicle. Are they breaking the law?
Montana has many routes connecting destinations throughout the state, from interstates to highways to rural dirt roads. Today, drivers face many distractions, phones and food being the biggest ones. Many states have laws to try to cut down on distracted driving. What about Montana?
Montana is the only state without any statewide laws about distracted driving. That means you can't be pulled over by an officer while texting, eating, or doing anything on your phone while driving, unless you're in a city or county that has its own laws about distracted driving. Outside these areas, you'd only be penalized if you were pulled over for a different offense and the officer gave you a citation for distracted driving.
Does this mean you should do these things while operating a motor vehicle? No. You need to be fully aware at all times while driving a car because in Montana, anything can suddenly try to cross the road, or there might be an accident around a corner you can't see.
One thing to be aware of is that every state plus the three Canadian provinces surrounding Montana all have distracted driving laws. Plus, the cities in Montana that have local bans on cellphone use while driving include Billings, Bozeman, Columbia Falls, Hamilton, Helena, Missoula, Great Falls, Butte, Anaconda, and Whitefish. You don't want to get pulled over for this offense because you will end up with a hefty fine. That will make you think twice.
Will Montana ever enact state-wide distracted driving laws? That is to be determined. It's been a topic of debate in the state for quite a few years, but as of now, there is nothing imminent.