It’s AZ Law: Put Your Phone Down while Driving

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It’s official! On Monday, April 22, Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill prohibiting all motorists from “physically holding” or “supporting with any part of the body” any wireless communication device in the Grand Canyon State. The law, which goes into effect immediately, outlaws any phone related activity unless it’s hands-free. That includes typing, sending or reading text messages; talking on the phone; taking a selfie; browsing social media; surfing the internet; and typing, sending or reading an email.

The Law

The law gives law enforcement the ability to stop drivers from physically holding their phones. It makes using any “portable wireless device” while driving a primary offense, meaning that if a police officer sees a phone or another device in your hands, they can pull you over. No other reason is needed. While the law goes into effect immediately, there is a grace period, meaning that law enforcement can only issue warnings until 2021. can, however, be cited in these cities:

Drivers can, in the interim, be cited in these cities:

Tempe – Tempe mirrors state law; drivers can’t talk, text or hold their phone, unless hands-free or stopped at a red light. Fines are $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for subsequent violations within a 24-month period.

Fountain Hills – Texting and driving is illegal in Fountain Hills. Motorists caught violating local ordinance are subject to a fine of $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for any subsequent violations within a 24-month period.

Phoenix – Texting while driving within Phoenix city limits is illegal.

Glendale – The Glendale ordinance prohibits talking, texting or otherwise using a cellphone while driving. The minimum fine for a first offense is $250.

Surprise – Talking, texting or anything involving a handheld communication device are prohibited in Surprise. The minimum fine for a first offense is $250.

Why This Law Was Needed

Using a cell phone while driving creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries. That is according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It kills about nine people each day and injures thousands more. Standing behind Gov. Ducey, as he signed HB 2318 into law on Monday, were just some of the families of these victims.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies three main types of distraction:

“Visual: Taking your eyes off the road;

Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel; and

Cognitive: Taking your mind off driving.”

Each sent text, phone call or other phone related activity, combines all three types of distraction. That means that you’re endangering not only your life but the lives of your passengers and other people on the road. The latter includes pedestrians as well. It’s simply not worth it and now it’s against the law in the state of Arizona!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the penalties for the hands-free law? Beginning January 1, 2021, you can be fined between $75 and $150 for a first offense. Second and subsequent violations carry a fine up to $250. Meanwhile, existing local laws remain in effect and can be enforced, even if a city or county ordinance is stricter than what’s in the new law (see above).

Can a police officer pull you over before January 1, 2012? Yes! Because HB 2318 takes effective immediately, you can be pulled over for using or holding your phone while driving, although police officers can only issue warnings right now. The grace period before citations will be issued allows law enforcement to educate the public.

Are there any exemptions to the new law? Drivers can make and receive calls using Bluetooth devices (e.g., headphones or earbuds, digital media receivers, or wrist-worn smartwatches etc.). You must be able to voice activate and deactivate all functions. Drivers can send or read texts, as well, but only if their devices allow voice-to-text.

Is it legal to text at a red light? Arizona motorists can still read or send text messages while stopped at a red light, although that does not necessarily mean they should. “Texting while at the light” is not without risk, according to a 2015 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

As an independent insurance agent, Hegarty-Haynes Insurance, Inc. is committed to educating Arizona drivers and providing solid insurance quotes at competitive rates. Contact us today at (480) 820-2297 for a free auto insurance quote.

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