In 2018 alone, distracted driving has caused 57,514 crashes in Arizona, with 810 of these cases resulting in fatalities and 15,689 in severe injuries.
To minimize these numbers, Arizona lawmakers are continuously improving the distracted driving regulations.
And, anyone participating on the road is expected to familiarize and follow these laws.
But what are the Arizona distracted driving laws this 2023?
We’re going to talk about it here. We’ll tell you everything that you need to know, so you can keep yourself, your passengers, and others around you safe.
What is Considered Distracted Driving in Arizona?
Most people have a very loose definition of distracted driving. However, according to law, distracted driving is basically any activity done by a driver that takes his/her attention off the road.
A few common examples are:
- Texting while driving
- Calling while driving
- Arguing with a passenger while driving
- Listening to loud music while driving
- Eating while driving
- Putting on makeup while driving
The majority of the mentioned scenarios are still technically legal. Arizona’s distracted driving laws focus more on cell phone use.
Distracted Driving Laws in Arizona
As of January 1, 2021, the use of handheld devices while behind the wheel is strictly prohibited in Arizona.
This new distracted driving law was created in response to an incident wherein an Arizona law enforcement officer was killed after being struck by a distracted motorist.
Said motorist later admitted to texting while driving at the time of the tragedy.
Data of Arizona distracted driving cases show that this is not the first time this incident has happened in the city. In light of this, lawmakers have finally decided to put a stop to these accidents.
And, they made this law primary enforcement.
Primary Enforcement vs Secondary Enforcement?
Most states issue texting while driving laws as secondary enforcement. Not in Arizona, though.
So to help you understand a little bit how serious this offense is in the state, let’s look at the difference between primary and secondary enforcement.
Secondary enforcement means law enforcers can only cite a driver for distracted driving if they are caught violating another law at the same time.
Primary enforcement, on the other hand, states that a driver can be stopped by the police or other distracted driving monitors for breaking this law alone. During this process, the driver is given a citation.
So as you can see, Arizona is very strict when it comes to its distracted driving laws.
Penalties for Distracted Driving in Arizona
Drivers who are discovered breaking this law may face fines ranging from $75 to $149 for their first offense, and between $150 and $250 for each subsequent offense.
Furthermore, anyone who causes harm or death while breaking the law will face a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by:
- 6-month jail time
- A year’s suspension of their driver’s license
- A fine of $100,000 for restitution
These infractions don’t result in high demerit points to your driver’s license. However, if the motorist causes substantial physical harm or death while breaching these regulations, the demerits points will be increased.
Arizona Distracted Driving Law Exceptions
If you’re wondering if there are exceptions to Arizona distracted driving laws, the answer is yes.
The following scenarios are exempted from distracted driving laws in Arizona:
- The driver is using a wrist-worn device, earpiece, or headphones to make phone calls and other communication while driving.
- A car that has built-in interfaces for communication — as long as it doesn’t interfere too much with a driver’s concentration.
- The driver listens to and responds to a text using voice-only technology, e.g., Google Assistant, Siri, and Amazon Alexa.
- The driver is using their cellphone’s map or GPS feature to navigate the road. Has to be in “hands-free” mode.
- The driver sends a text or makes a call after pulling over. This can be while parked in a parking lot or while at a red light.
- The driver uses their device to summon help in case of an emergency.
- The driver uses their device to report a crime in their immediate area.
FAQs About Arizona Distracted Driving Laws
To end this article, we’re going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this topic. This way, you’ll know even more about these super important laws in the state.
Can you eat while driving in Arizona?
Technically speaking, eating while driving in Arizona is not — in any way — illegal. The state has no laws stopping anyone from eating while they drive.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should do it anyway.
Eating while driving is a form of distraction, thus increasing your chances of getting into an accident. So maybe consider eating your cheeseburger while parked or when you reach your destination.
Will breaking the Arizona distracted driving laws affect my insurance premium?
Infractions earned because of distracted driving citations won’t show up on your driving record. Thus, it’s possible that your insurance company won’t know about the demerits or fees.
If you cause an accident or commit a moving violation, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. In this case, you can expect your rates to go up.
Is it legal for everyone to drive with headphones in Arizona?
While it’s legal for most drivers to use headphones while behind the wheel, it’s not for bus drivers or drivers of other vehicles that transport children. This is because they’re doing very precarious work and need all their attention on the task at hand.
Distracted driving has taken more than a dozen lives over the years in Arizona alone.
To protect yourself and the people around you, following Arizona’s distracted driving laws is essential.
And how can you follow laws that you don’t know?
Well, this article includes everything you need to know about distracted driving laws in Arizona.
So now that you know, it’s time to take responsibility and STOP being distracted while driving.
Yes, that means the other distractions, too, even if texting while driving is the only one formally illegal.