Fine increases to $100 for mobile use while driving - News, Sports and Weather

Fine increases to $100 for mobile use while driving

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A Helena city judge increased the fine for 'illegal use of a mobile device while driving' from $75 to $100. The increase will become effective starting tomorrow.

The city of Helena already tickets drivers for talking or texting on the phone while driving. But starting tomorrow, if you are ticketed for doing'll be digging a bit deeper into your pocket.

"We started out at $25...didn't slow anything down. Raised it to $'s become epidemic,” Judge Bob Wood. "So we're raising it to the maximum now in hopes that it will have some impact."

If found guilty, violators will now face a fine of $100 plus $5 in court costs.

Municipal Judge Bob Wood says he's seen hundreds of distracted driving violations come across his desk, and even had his own experience with distracted drivers.

"I had a person try and switch lane in the passenger side of my truck while they were talking on the cell phone," Wood said.

In fact, distracted driving is a Helena city ordinance, which means if you are given a ticket and plead guilty to talking on your phone or texting while won't show up on your driving record.

"If for the sake of argument, someone tries the case and is found guilty, they just get a fine," Wood said. "It doesn't go on their traffic points or anything like that because it is in fact a municipal ordinance not a moving violation under state laws."

Helena police Captain Curt Stinson says regardless of the fine amount, Helena police will continue enforcing this city code the same as any other.

"For us, whether it's a $15 fine or a $550 fine, I think the enforcement's the same," Stinson said. "We'll enforce it when we see the violations happen, and we'll enforce it as much and as often as we have to ability to it, regardless of what the fine is."

Now, if just you can't help but use your phone while driving, Helena city code does allow the use of hands free mobile phone or phone accessories.

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