Arizona is one of the few states that don’t have state-wide distracted driving laws restricting texting messaging or talking on a cellphone while operating a vehicle. (However, some Arizona cities, including Phoenix and Tucson, have ordinances that restrict cellphone use and texting while driving.) Currently, only school bus drivers are prohibited by state law from using a cellphone or wireless device while driving.
However, starting in June 2018, Arizona will impose cellphone and wireless device use restrictions on drivers who are under the age of 18.
In Arizona, a person who is 15 and half years old is eligible for an instruction permit after completing a written examination and vision test. An instruction permit allows the holder to drive while accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old.
Arizona’s new distracted driving laws will prohibit motorists with instruction permits to use a wireless communication device for any purpose while driving. In other words, these motorists won’t be allowed to use a cellphone or other wireless device to text message or talk while operating a vehicle.
Exception. The only exception to the instruction-permit-wireless-device-use ban is for emergencies in which stopping the vehicle is impossible or would create an additional emergency or safety hazard.
Enforcement. The instruction permit wireless device use violation will be a secondary offense. Officers aren’t allowed to pull motorists over for secondary offenses: There must be some other reason (like speeding or running a red light) for making the stop.
Drivers who are under 18 but at least 16 years old, have had an instruction permit for six months or more, and meet certain other requirements can apply for a class G license.
The new distracted driving laws will prohibit motorists with class G licenses from using a wireless communication device for any purpose for the first sixth months that they hold the class G license.
Exceptions. The wireless device use ban doesn’t apply in emergencies in which stopping the vehicle is impossible or would create an additional emergency or safety hazard. And there’s also an exception for navigation (GPS) devices, provided the driver doesn’t manually enter information or manually adjust the device while operating the vehicle.
Enforcement. A class G wireless device use violation will be a secondary offense. So, a driver can’t be stopped for a violation unless there’s some other valid reason for the stop.
Fines and penalties. For a first class G wireless device violation, there’s a maximum $75 fine, and the six-month device use restriction is extended for 30 days. A second violation carries a maximum fine of $100, and the device use restriction is extended for 60 days. And motorists convicted of a third or subsequent violation are looking at $100 maximum fine and a 30-day license suspension.