Until recently, Arizona was one of the few states without state-wide distracted driving laws restricting texting messaging and talking on a cellphone while operating a vehicle. However, Arizona recently passed legislation that bans all hand-held phone and electronic device use while driving. For now, officers are just issuing warnings. But starting in January 2021, officers can start writing citations for distracted driving violations. Also, motorists who are under the age of 18 are currently prohibited by state law from using a cellphone or wireless device while driving.
Arizona’s distracted driving law generally prohibits all drivers from using a portable electronic device or cellphone to talk or write, send, or read a text message. However, the distracted driving ban doesn’t apply to devices that are in hands-free or voice-operated mode.
Exception. The distracted driving restrictions don’t apply if the driver is an emergency service provider like a police officer or if the driver is using the device to report an emergency or summon emergency help.
Enforcement. Presently, an officer can stop a driver for a distracted violation and issue a warning. Officers can start writing tickets for violations on January 1, 2021.
Fines. A first distracted driving ticket will carry $75 to $150 in fines. For second or subsequent violation, the fine will be $150 to $250.
In Arizona, a person who is 15 and a 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 distracted driving laws prohibit motorists with instruction permits to use a wireless communication device for any purpose while driving. In other words, these motorists aren't 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 is a secondary offense. So, 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 distracted driving laws 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 is 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.