April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Arizona will soon pass a state law banning texting and driving, but that doesn’t mean it’s legal to do so until the law passes. Many local jurisdictions have enacted codes or ordinances to make it illegal not only to text while driving, but to use a phone at all while driving, unless it is being used in hands-free mode.
The Bottom Line: Unless you’re on speakerphone or Bluetooth, it is illegal to talk on your phone or text while operating a vehicle in Tucson, Oro Valley, and Pima County—including when you’re stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic.
The proposed Arizona law applies to texting only.
Here’s a table to summarize some of the local codes and ordinances currently in place, and a rundown on the new Arizona law that is expected to pass.
An operator of a vehicle may not…
City of Tucson
Use a mobile phone or portable electronic device on a street or highway unless it is specifically designed or configured to allow hands-free use and is used in that manner while operating a motor vehicle.
1st offense: $50
2nd offense: $100
3rd offense: $200
$250 if cause of accident
City of Phoenix
Text while vehicle is in motion (does not state illegal even while stopped in traffic).
$100 first time
$250 if use causes an accident
State of Arizona
Text or read, write or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped.
1st offense: $25-99
Additional offense: $100-200
Misdemeanor and up to $4000
$250 if cause of serious injury or death
References: Tucson City Code §20-160, Oro Valley Town Code, Article 10-14; Pima County Code, Chapter 10.34; City of Phoenix Code 76.01; SB 1261, proposed law adding A.R.S. §28-913.
Additional points of proposed A.R.S. §28-913:
The law is fairly lenient:
Keep in mind that, when in Tucson, Oro Valley, or Pima County, the stricter “no use” rules will still apply.
Also, make sure new drivers know the rules applicable to local and state jurisdictions. Not only will this help them while driving, but people taking their original driver’s license exam may be tested on the effect of using a cell phone or engaging in other actions that could distract a driver.
As always, don’t hesitate to contact me with questions about this article or any other issue. firstname.lastname@example.org
Article Written By: Cassandra Meynard