Tomorrow, May 25, marks the first day that Missoula’s updated cellphone ordinance goes into effect.

“Essentially what the city council did, was they removed nearly every exception for why you could have the phone in your hand while you were driving through Missoula,” explained Missoula Police Department Sgt. Greg Amundsen. “Under the old ordinance, before they had the revisions, if you were looking for music on it or using it as a music player you could hold it. If you were using it as a GPS device, you could hold it, but that’s not true any longer.”

There are now far fewer exceptions for when a driver can have a cell phone in their hand while on roads in the city of Missoula.

“One of the exceptions is the reporting of illegal activity, summoning emergency medical help, or preventing injury, which, most everything that a law enforcement officer is going to be doing on their phone, as far as communicating with 9-1-1 or other officers, is going to be covered under that section,” Amundsen said. “But citizens are allowed to call 9-1-1 to report dangerous activity, or any type of medical emergency.”

According to Amundson, the county Attorney’s office found the old version of the ordinance extremely difficult to prosecute because of the multitude of uses modern cell phones afford besides simply calling and texting.

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