House Bill No. 99
Introduced By trexler
A Bill for an Act entitled: An Act revising the traffic regulations in a highway construction area; ESTABLISHING SPEED REGULATIONS IN A CONSTRUCTION ZONE AND A WORK ZONE; creating the offense of reckless endangerment of highway workers; DEFINING "highway worker", "CONSTRUCTION ZONE", AND "WORK ZONE"; DOUBLING THE penalties FOR traffic violations IN A WORK ZONE; providing for delayed enforcement of reckless endangerment of highway workers; AMENDING sections 61-8-303 and 61-8-715, MCA; and providing an immediate effective date and a termination date.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:
Section 1. Traffic violations in construction zone and work zone -- definitions. (1) As used in this section, the following definitions apply:
(a) "Construction zone" means an area on a public highway or on the adjacent right-of-way where construction, repair, maintenance, or survey work is being performed by the department of transportation, a local authority, a utility company, or a private contractor under contract with the department of transportation or a local authority. A construction zone may include a work zone.
(b) "Public highway" has the same meaning as in 60-1-103.
(c) "Work zone" means the area where the construction, repair, maintenance, or survey work is actually taking place.
(2) A person may not operate a motor vehicle in a construction zone or in a work zone on a public highway in violation of any of the provisions of part 3 of this chapter.
(3) The speed limit in a construction zone or in a work zone must be set by the department of transportation or the local authority based on traffic conditions or the condition of the construction, repair, maintenance, or survey project.
(4) (a) The department of transportation, the local authority, the utility company, or the private contractor shall post signs that conform to the department of transportation's manual on uniform traffic control devices and that indicate the boundaries of the construction zone and the work zone and the speed limit in effect within both zones.
(b) The department of transportation, the local authority, the utility company, or the private contractor shall clearly indicate at the boundary of a construction zone that a person who violates any of the provisions of part 3 of this chapter in the work zone is subject to the fine provided in subsection (5)(a).
(c) The boundaries of the work zone may not exceed 500 feet in advance of and beyond the actual construction activity.
(5) (a) A person convicted of a traffic violation in a work zone is guilty of a misdemeanor. Upon arrest and conviction, the person shall be punished by a fine of not less than double the penalty provided for the violation in part 7 of this chapter.
(b) A person convicted of a traffic violation in a construction zone is guilty of a misdemeanor. Upon arrest and conviction, the person is subject to the penalty provided for the violation in part 7 of this chapter.
Section 2. Reckless endangerment of highway workers -- definition. (1) As used in this section, "highway worker" means an employee of the department of transportation, a local authority, a utility company, or a private contractor.
(2) A person commits the offense of reckless endangerment of highway workers if the person purposely, knowingly, or negligently drives a motor vehicle in a highway construction zone in such a manner as to endanger persons or property or if the person purposely removes, ignores, or intentionally strikes a traffic control device in a highway construction zone for reasons other than:
(a) avoidance of an obstacle;
(b) an emergency; or
(c) to protect the health or safety of an occupant of the vehicle or another person.
Section 3. Section 61-8-303, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-8-303. Speed restrictions -- basic rule. (1) A person operating or driving a vehicle of any character on a public highway of this state shall drive the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed no greater than is reasonable and proper under the conditions existing at the point of operation, taking into account the amount and character of traffic, condition of brakes, weight of vehicle, grade and width of highway, condition of surface, and freedom of obstruction to the view ahead. The person operating or driving the vehicle shall drive the vehicle so as not to unduly or unreasonably endanger the life, limb, property, or other rights of a person entitled to the use of the street or highway.
(2) When no special hazard exists that requires lower speed for compliance with subsection (1), the speed of a vehicle not in excess of the limits specified in this section or established as authorized in 61-8-309 through 61-8-311 and 61-8-313 is lawful, but a speed in excess of the following limits is unlawful:
(a) 25 miles per hour in an urban district;
(b) 35 miles per hour on a highway under construction or repair or on a highway being surveyed, unless the department
establishes and posts a different limit due to traffic conditions or the condition of the construction, repair, or survey project; (c)(b) 55 miles per hour in other locations during the nighttime, except that the nighttime speed limit on completed
sections of interstate highways is 65 miles per hour.
(3) "Daytime" means from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. "Nighttime" means at any other hour.
(4) The speed limits set forth in this section may be altered by the transportation commission or a local authority as
authorized in 61-8-309, 61-8-310,
and 61-8-313, and [section 1].
(5) The driver of a vehicle shall, consistent with subsection (1), drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon a narrow or winding roadway, and when a special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway condition."
Section 4. Section 61-8-715, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-8-715. Reckless driving -- reckless endangerment of highway workers -- penalty. (1) A person convicted of
reckless driving under 61-8-301(1)(a) or (1)(c) or convicted of reckless endangerment of highway workers under [section 2]
shall be punished upon a first conviction by imprisonment for a period of not more than 90 days,
or by fine of not less than
$25 or more than $300, or by both such fine and imprisonment,. and on On a second or subsequent conviction the person
shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than 10 days or more than 6 months, or by a fine of not less than $50 or
more than $500, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(2) A person convicted of reckless driving under 61-8-301(1)(b) shall be punished by imprisonment in the county or city
jail for not less than 10 days or more than 6 months to which may be added, at the discretion of the court, a fine of not less
than $300 or more than $500. On a second or subsequent conviction,
he the person shall be punished by imprisonment for a
term of not less than 30 days or more than 1 year to which may be added at the discretion of the court a fine of not less than
$500 or more than $1,000.
(3) (a) For a 6-month grace period following [the effective date of this act], a peace officer shall issue one warning citation to a person found recklessly endangering a highway worker as the offense is described in [section 2]. If that person is found recklessly endangering a highway worker a second or subsequent time during the grace period, the person is subject to the penalties provided in this section.
(b) At the expiration of the grace period, the penalties provided in this section apply to all convictions of reckless endangerment of a highway worker.
(c) The grace period provided in subsection (3)(a) applies only to reckless endangerment of a highway worker as defined in [section 2] and does not affect the penalties for or enforcement of any other violation of traffic regulations provided in Title 61."
Section 5. Codification instruction. [Sections 1 and 2] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 61, chapter 8, part 3, and the provisions of Title 61, chapter 8, part 3, apply to [sections 1 and 2].
Section 6. Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.
Section 7. Termination. [Section 4(3)] terminates 6 months following [the effective date of this act].