Distracted Driving and Arizona Laws

by Doug Zanes | Last Updated: July 10, 2020

Technology is an amazing thing. We now have e-mail, text messaging, videos, and more right at our fingertips. One downside of these developments is that it is incredibly easy to become distracted by a smart phone. Unfortunately, sometimes people become distracted while driving, which is incredibly unsafe. In fact, distracted drivers are four times more likely to end up in an accident.

In an effort to combat the issue of distracted driving, Arizona has proposed various cell phone bans for more than a decade. Additionally, texting while driving has been prohibited for new, teenage drivers. The state passed an overall bill in 2019 that bans the use of a handheld cell phone while driving.

This means that the following are against the law while driving:

  • Watching any type of video or recording a video
  • Writing, sending, or reading any text-based communication such as email and text messaging
  • Holding a cell phone at all

However, the bill does not totally prohibit the use of a cell phone, so long as it is hands-free. This means that while behind the wheel, drivers may:

  • Use an earpiece, headphone, or wrist device to speak on the phone
  • Use voice-based communication, such as talk-to-text
  • Swipe a phone’s screen to make a call or accept an incoming call
  • Use a GPS system

It should be noted that while it is against the law to hold a cell phone while driving, you may use it while at a stoplight or traffic light.

This bill not only bans the use of handheld cell phones while driving in Arizona, but it also bans any type of portable wireless communication device.

While this bill applies to all drivers in Arizona, there are some exceptions. Those who are witnessing a crime, require emergency help, or first-responders are allowed exceptions.

It’s important to note that this cell phone ban will not immediately take effect. Police officers are not allowed to ticket drivers for violating the law until Jan. 1, 2021. In the meantime, they are permitted to issue warnings to drivers.

Come 2021, law enforcement officers who notice drivers using their cell phones may cite them with tickets ranging from $75 to $149. Subsequent violations could cost drivers up to $250 per occurrence. As this is a primary offense, police officers will not need another reason to pull a driver over. If he or she sees a driver holding his or her phone it’s enough to fine them.

While this is a statewide ban, many cities across the state have already implemented their own cell phone bans. The cities that have already implemented this type of legislation will have their laws remain in effect until 2021. Phoenix currently has a law that prohibits texting while driving. Therefore, drivers in Phoenix can be fined under the city law until state law takes over next year.

Arizona joins 16 other states with state-wide handheld cell phone use bans.

Consult with a Qualified AZ Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to the negligence or recklessness of another party, a qualified Arizona Car Accident attorney can help. At Zanes Law, we will help you fight for the compensation you deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 833-214-0917.

Zanes Law – We handle your claim from A to Z.

Doug Zanes: Founding Attorney Raised in Douglas, Arizona, and went to college at Arizona State University and graduated from law school at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas. Doug began practicing law in Phoenix Arizona in 1997.
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