Saturday, May 15, 2021

Penalties to increase for reckless driving around responders

by Associated Press
| April 30, 2021 12:00 PM

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A bill that strengthens penalties for drivers endangering first responders and highway workers on Montana roadways has been signed into law.

Gov. Greg Gianforte signed the measure Thursday increasing fines for driving reckless around emergency personnel to a maximum of $500 for a first offense and $1000 for a second offense.

The bill from Fairfield Republican Rep. Ross Fitzgerald also included tow truck drivers among those people who drivers can be punished for endangering. It was co-sponsored by Bozeman Democratic Rep. Jim Hamilton.

Support for the legislation was driven in part by testimony from family of Casie Allen and Nick Visser, tow truck operators who were hit and killed by a truck while clearing a crash on I-90 between Park City and Columbus on an icy morning in October, the Billings Gazette reported.

Montana Department of Justice statistics show the Highway Patrol averaged 149 citations a year over the last five years for people improperly approaching emergency or police vehicles.