Arizona, it seems, likes to be different. We’re the only place in the Contiguous United States that doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time. We’re also one of only three states in the country that has not – so far – instituted a broad restriction on texting while driving. But if you think that gives you free rein to grab your cell phone and text to your heart’s content anywhere in Arizona, you’d be wrong.
While a statewide ban on texting while driving may not be the law in our state, municipalities and counties have passed ordinances and regulations that may make the practice illegal. Here are some examples:
- Phoenix – Texting while driving is illegal, and a violation can bring a fine of between $100 and $250.
- Pima County – Use of hand-held devices has been prohibited since last year. Tucson, the county seat, had previously passed a ban.
- Coconino County – The law was the first county-wide prohibition on the use of hand-help phones. Flagstaff and Oro Valley, both in Coconino, had already passed restrictions when the county law went into effect.
What we end up with is a bit of confusion. It may be ok to use the phone while driving at one point during your trip, but the rules change while you’re en route. The seems rather unfair to drivers, but we think that the situation may change in the not-too-distant future. In fact, there are already a few state-wide limitations on the use of phones while driving:
- School bus drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone while operating a school bus.
- Effective June 30, 2018, new drivers (those having a learner’s permit or a provisional license) are banned form using cell phones for six months after obtaining a full license.
- Also effective at the end of last month, drivers under the age of 18 are banned from cell phone use while driving.
As noted above, the efforts to pass a state-wide ban on texting or talking on a cell phone (without a hands-free device) have thus far been unsuccessful. In fact, the legislature has refused to pass such a law notwithstanding about a dozen attempts.
The NHTSA says that thousands of people are killed each year as the result of distracted driving, and that it accounts for about 25% of all motor vehicle fatalities. And sending or reading a text will cause drivers, on average, to take their eyes off the road for five seconds. We are cautiously optimistic that increased concerns over distracted driving may push the legislature into action.
The Feldman Law Firm PLLC
1 E. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004