By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA - Imagine driving your car, talking on your cell phone, then getting pulled over, ticketed and fined for it. Right now, cities and towns in Montana can individually decide whether or not that’s lawful.

House Bill 194 would change that, barring anyone in the state from being legally punished for driving and using a device. The House Republican carrying the bill, Jeremy Trebas of Great Falls, doesn’t think distracted driving is a good idea, but doesn’t think being fined for it is a good idea either.

“So if you’re out there, don’t do that," Trebas said Monday. "The problem it addresses is that we’re charging huge fines.”

After a third offense in Great Falls, people can be fined more than $500 and be assigned up to 40 hours of community service.

Democratic Rep. Jim Keane of Butte says if a community votes and agrees that cell phones are a problem, “then they should be able to deal with it in a way that they feel appropriate.”

HB 194 will be heard Tuesday morning at the 2017 Montana Legislature.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.