DOUGLAS — The Douglas Police Department is reminding local drivers who are used to frequently talking on their cell phones while driving, that starting Jan. 1, 2021 they can expect to be pulled over and possibly receive a citation.
The state’s new hands-free law prohibiting in-hand use of electronic devices while driving went into effect after being signed by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on April 22, 2019. It immediately made using devices like cell phones in-hand while driving a primary offense, while citations and penalties take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.
Starting Jan. 1, citations will result in fines up to $149 for the first offense and $150 to $250 for each subsequent offense. Enhanced penalties and demerit points will be assigned if the driver causes serious bodily injury or death while violating this law.
Distracted driving causes thousands of entirely preventable crashes every year. In 2019 in Arizona, at least 10,491 drivers involved in crashes were engaged in distracted driving behavior. Traffic safety stakeholders believe this figure is actually much higher, however, because distracted driving is underreported since drivers often don’t admit to being distracted or died in the crash.
Hands-Free Arizona Law at a Glance
The law prohibits:
- Holding or supporting a wireless device while driving
- Writing or reading any text-based communication while driving
- Watching, recording, or broadcasting video while driving
Exemptions to the law include:
- Hands-free voice-to-text
- Using a device while stopped at a traffic light
- Using a device in reporting an emergency
Drivers under the age of 18 who have had their license for less than six months may not use any wireless communication device while driving except:
- During an emergency when stopping is impossible or will create a safety hazard
- When using an audible turn-by turn navigation system providing that the licensee does not enter the location manually or make any manual adjustments to the device while driving