Distracted Driving Laws in Arizona
While the act of texting and driving in Arizona is not illegal throughout the entire state, cities such as Phoenix and Tucson have their own local laws in place. As part of these texting and driving laws, motorists cannot use a wireless telecommunications device while operating a vehicle within city limits. If motorists break these laws, then they will receive a citation and they will need to pay a fine depending on whether the offense involved an accident or not. However, these laws do not apply to vehicles that are parked or stopped at traffic lights.
Additionally, texting while driving is prohibited amongst commercial drivers and novice motorists throughout the state, regardless of the city in which they live and operate a vehicle in. If residents break these laws, then they may temporarily lose their driving privileges and they may need to pay a costly fine. In some cases, they may need to attend traffic school. To learn more about the Arizona distracted driving laws, review the sections below.
What is distracted driving in Arizona?
Driving distractions in Arizona include any activity that diverts the attention of the driver from the task of operating the motor vehicle. For instance, if drivers engage in an activity that requires the use of their hands, attention, or eyes, then they are guilty of driving distractedly. Various types of distractions may include the following:
- Texting and driving or handling a cell phone
- Reading a road map or navigation device
- Adjusting a seat belt while driving
- Paying attention to children or pets
- Searching for an item in a glovebox, bag or purse
- Driving while overly excited, depressed, angry or anxious
While rates of distracted driving in AZ have declined since 2005, the act of driving distractedly continues to be the main cause of serious traffic-related injuries and fatalities throughout the state. For instance, distractions like cell phone use while driving caused 1,635 injuries and 199 fatalities in 2005, 1,343 injuries and 169 fatalities in 2008, 955 injuries and 101 fatalities in 2010, and 727 injuries and 65 fatalities in 2015.
Driving Laws in Arizona for Handheld Devices
While there is no Arizona distracted driving law at this time, novice motorists and commercial vehicle operators may not engage in any distracting activities while operating a motor vehicle. Additionally, certain cities throughout the state have enacted their own driving-related laws. For instance, drivers in the city of Tucson cannot use handheld electronic devices for any reason while operating a vehicle within city limits. Tucson drivers cannot talk on the phone while operating a vehicle unless they use hands-free technology. However, talking on the phone while driving in the city of Phoenix is not prohibited, as this local law only pertains to texting.
Texting and Driving Laws in Arizona
While no texting and driving law is enforced throughout the state, cities such as Tucson and Phoenix have prohibited the use of phones while operating a motor vehicle within city limits. For instance, in the cities of Tucson and Phoenix, texting while driving in Arizona is illegal unless motorists use hands-free technology.
Arizona Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers
Distracted drivers in AZ tend to be males between 15 and 24 years of age. From 2005 to 2012, 85 fatalities and 768 life-threatening injuries were caused by distracted male drivers between 15 and 19 years of age. During this same period, female drivers between 15 and 19 years of age were responsible for causing 51 traffic-related deaths and 591 serious injuries.
Other facts about distracted driving show that motorists between 20 and 24 years of age are just as likely to drive distractedly. Between 2005 and 2012, male motorists caused 125 traffic-related fatalities and 845 major injuries, while preoccupied female drivers were responsible for causing 28 fatalities and 503 serious injuries.
Under the Arizona distracted driving law, teenage motorists with instruction permits cannot use a wireless telecommunications device while operating a motor vehicle. However, as an exception to this law, novice drivers may use a mobile device in an emergency situation, if stopping the vehicle or exiting the roadway to use the device would cause additional safety hazards.
Moreover, cell phone use while driving is also prohibited amongst new Graduated License (Class G) holders. Under this law, Class G drivers who are between 16 and 18 years of age cannot use a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle during the first six months of issuance. However, Class G license holders may use a mobile device when driving if they are doing so for GPS purposes or they need to use their phone in an emergency.
Arizona Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders
Additional texting while driving laws in AZ pertain to commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders. Under this law, commercial drivers are prohibited from using handheld mobile devices while operating a commercial vehicle. Additionally, CDL holders cannot text and drive or read messages on any electronic device, including a wireless telephone, digital assistant or computer.
Distracted Driving Penalties in Arizona
While there are no formal distracted driving consequences in every city throughout the state of Arizona, teenage drivers must complete an approved Traffic Survival School after their first cell phone-related conviction. After the second or third conviction, novice drivers will receive a three- or six-month drivers license suspension. Each violation also remains on the novice motorist’s driving record.
However, if motorists break any laws against distracted driving within the city limits of Tucson, then they will need to pay $50 after their first offense, $100 after the second and $200 for any future offenses. If an offense involves in an accident, then motorists must pay a $250 fine. In Phoenix, the fine ranges between $150 and $250 depending on whether the incident involves a collision.
Furthermore, commercial drivers who break texting while driving laws in AZ are subject to more severe penalties. After the second conviction, commercial drivers will lose their driving credentials for 60 days if they commit the second offense within a three-year period. After committing their third offense within a three-year period, commercial drivers lose their CDL credentials for 120 days. After each conviction, commercial drivers must also pay a fine of up to $2,750.
Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in Arizona
While a single cell phone distraction such as making a phone call or responding to a text message may not seem like a big deal, distractions such as these make it more difficult to concentrate on other drivers, pedestrians and the road ahead. However, motorists can reduce potential distractions by keeping several tips in mind whenever they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. To prevent driving distractions in AZ, it is important to:
- Pull the vehicle off the road if you need to make a phone call or send a text message.
- Always keep both hands on the wheel.
- Hide your handheld electronic devices whenever you get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
- Use a smartphone app to block your incoming phone calls or text messages.
- Pre-program an address into your mobile phone if you wish to use it for navigation purposes.
- Use speed dial if you do need to make a phone call.