Great Falls Police Chief Weighs In On Trebas Cell Phone Bill

Today, the Montana House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on HB 194, a bill sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Trebas, R-Great Falls, that would prohibit local governments from imposing “restrictions on [the] use of mobile communications devices while operating a motor vehicle.” We published Trebas’ prepared remarks two days ago.

In testimony opposing Trebas’ bill, City Commissioner Bill Bronson included a letter from our very good police chief (and arguably the City’s finest department head), David Bowen. It reads:

Members of the House Judiciary Committee:

In order to take a proactive step in reducing distracted driving crashes that result in property loss, personal injury and even death, cities like Great Falls have passed local ordinances to prohibit the use of electronic hand-held devices in order to equip law enforcement with the tools necessary to address this rising problem.

By prohibiting the ability of the local communities to help curb this problem, you are endangering the welfare of our citizens that we have taken an oath to safeguard. I am opposed to HB 194 and would strongly encourage our lawmakers to consider the consequences of how this bill affects the motoring public.

David Bowen

Great Falls police chief

Trebas thinks his bill will make it out of committee, but is unsure of its chances on the House floor.

Even if it does, we can’t imagine Governor Bullock would sign it into law.

Reader interactions

6 Replies to “Great Falls Police Chief Weighs In On Trebas Cell Phone Bill”

  1. Lt. Colonel (Retired, Army) Richard Liebert January 18, 2017 at 12:38 PM

    I’m curious how many distracted driving incidents we’ve had in the City of Great Falls just for the record. I think it’ vital for both sides of the argument, and I stand-by the chief, but I think the data should be brought forward.


  2. Tell me again why we need to have separate, municipal ordinances if not to raise money for the municipalities?

    Montana law provides:
    61-8-302. Careless driving. (1) A person operating or driving a vehicle on a public highway shall drive it in a careful and prudent manner that does not unduly or unreasonably endanger the life, limb, property, or other rights of a person entitled to the use of the highway.
    (2) A person who is convicted of the offense of careless driving is subject to the penalties provided in 61-8-711 or 61-8-716.


    1. Capt BlackEagle January 19, 2017 at 4:35 AM



  3. If this isn’t a blatant money grab then where are the ordinances against eating, putting on makeup, etc. As Mr. Smith points out, there are already statutes that cover all of those things and phones too.

    Look, I think we can all agree that distracted driving can be a serious problem but selective rule-making that ignores far more egregious acts when there is already a clear law on the books is indefensible unless the powers that be want to admit that this is indeed a money deal. Even then the argument could be made that it’s indefensible but at least we’d be talking about what I think most people see as the real issue and not this selective “safety” issue.


  4. Lt. Colonel (Retired, Army) Richard Liebert January 22, 2017 at 10:37 PM I appreciate Gregg reminding us of MCA statute, and why haven’t had diligent enforcement already?


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