Arizona lawmakers OK texting-and-driving ban

PAGE – The 48th state becomes the 48th state to limit cellphone use while driving.

It took Arizona over 10 years of legislation to pass House Bill 2318. Governor Doug Ducey signed the bill last week.

The new law takes full effect January 2021. Until then, law enforcement will pull over vehicles and issue warnings. There are 26 local ordinances with active cellphone laws that are not subject to the warning period. In 2021, all jurisdictions will enforce the same state law.

According to the governor’s website, the law makes texting a primary offense, allowing officers to pull over drivers for texting and driving. Driving while using a mobile device is equated with impaired driving, the same as drunk-driving. Fines are $150 for the first offense and up to $250 for repeat offenses. If cellphone use causes an accident, it’s a criminal penalty meaning up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Exemptions from the law are hands-free use, reporting an emergency or use while stopped at a traffic light.

About one in 10 fatal accidents in the U.S. are attributed to distraction. States passing hands-free laws experienced a 16 percent reduction in fatalities. Texting while driving increases crash risk by 23 times.


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