Distracted driving is a serious issue that puts everyone on the road in danger and as the popularity and functionality of cell phones have increased, so have the number of car accidents and injuries. In fact, according to the latest data from the CDC, in 2018 over 2,800 people were killed and an estimated 400,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.
In an effort to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents and to keep Arizonans safer on the road, House Bill 2318 was signed into law on April 29th, 2019. This new distracted driving law prohibits drivers from using any electronic devices that divert a driver’s attention away from the road and as of January 1st, 2021, it will be an automatic ticket if a police officer observes you using them.
Arizona’s New Distracted Driving Law
Whether you agree with the new law or not, using a cellphone or electronic device is a distraction while driving and you risk injuring yourself and others on the road around you. If you are a driver in Arizona, you need to be aware of the new distracted driving rules and how they impact you.
To limit distracted driving in Arizona, as of January 1st, 2021, a police officer can ticket a driver if they observe them doing any of the following:
- Holding or supporting an electronic device with your body, whether it is on or off (this includes placing it on your shoulder or lap)
- Reading, writing, or sending any messages that require you to use your hands or look away from the road
- Scrolling through social media
- Watching videos
- Recording videos of any type
What is Allowed Under the New Distracted Driving Law
Not all actions involving the use of an electronic device are banned under the new law, but it is important that you use your electronic devices for approved actions as little as possible. Even though these activities may be allowed, they are still a distraction, and a police officer can’t differentiate between using an electronic device for maps or texting and they will pull you over if they see you using an electronic device.
You are allowed to use electronic devices while driving for the following:
- To engage and disengage a function on the device such as GPS route start or end
- Answering or ending a phone call
- Talking on an electronic device with an earpiece, headphone device, or device worn on the wrist that allows for voice-based communication that allows a driver to keep his eyes on the road
- Using an electronic device for navigation purposes
- Using a device in an emergency situation to call for help or report a crime.
Can You use an Electronic Device While Stopped at a Red Light?
According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS), the new distracted driving law only applies to vehicles that are moving. This means that drivers are allowed to look at and use their phones or electronic devices while they are at a complete stop, such as at a red light, however, AZDPS does not recommend using any electronic devices while in the driver’s seat.
Penalties for Distracted Driving in Arizona
Arizona’s Distracted Driver Bill was signed into law on April 22, 2019, but it was given a “grace period” that lasts until the end of the year. This grace period serves as a time for drivers to become accustomed to not using or holding any electronic devices while driving and it allows for drivers to be pulled over and given a warning instead of a ticket by a police officer.
But, as of January 1st, 2021, there will be no more warnings given and it will be an automatic ticket if a police officer observes you using or holding an electronic device while driving. These are the fines for distracted driving in Arizona:
- First violation: $75 – $149 fine
- Second or subsequent violation: $150 – $250 fine
Distracted Driving is a Primary Offense
Even though the fines for distracted driving are minimal and using an electronic device may seem insignificant, AZDPS considers it to be a primary offense for pulling someone over. A primary offense is what allows an officer to pull someone over and since distracted driving is a primary offense a police officer does not need any other reason to pull you over and ticket you.