Arizona Ban on Texting and Driving Lead to More DUI Stops
Similar to other states, Arizona has banned texting while driving. The state previously issued warnings to drivers caught texting while driving. Arizona law enforcement is now issuing fines to those nabbed texting while behind the wheel of a vehicle with the engine on. In fact, Arizona law enforcement can use texting while driving violations as a pretext to pull a driver over and administer DUI field sobriety tests.
Even slightly unusual movement of the vehicle when texting, such as making a wider than normal turn or weaving sets the stage for a police officer to perform a traffic stop. This is precisely why those who drive after drinking even half a beer or half a glass of wine should resist the temptation to text while driving.
Penalties for Texting While Driving
Arizona drivers who are caught texting while driving will be pulled over and ticketed. The fines for texting while driving ticket range from $75 all the way up to $149, depending on whether it is the driver’s first offense. If the driver is found guilty of texting while driving a second or third time, the subsequent violation will carry a fine of $150 to $250. These elevated fees are detailed in the amended Arizona House Bill 2318.
Though such fines are civil penalties as opposed to criminal penalties, being pulled over for texting while driving sets the stage for drunk drivers to face criminal charges. If you have had even a small amount of alcohol to drink, it is imperative that you do not text while driving. In fact, Arizona law states a police officer who stops a driver for using a phone or other electronic communication device to text while driving can take it from that driver and inspect it.
You Have the Power to Avoid a Traffic Stop for Texting and a Potential DUI
Though it might seem unlikely for a police officer to stop you for texting while driving and determine you are inebriated, it is becoming an increasingly common event. Your behavior while behind the wheel will help reduce the chances of a traffic stop and subsequent DUI charge. Refrain from moving your neck toward your shoulder when driving as doing so makes it appear as though you are using a phone.
Do not hold any type of mobile device when operating a motor vehicle, whether it is a phone, a portable gaming console or any other wireless device. Keep in mind, the state’s law pertains to cellular phones as well as handheld devices used for music and gaming.
Are There any Exceptions?
Arizona drivers are free to speak to others while driving when using a device that functions with earbuds or headphones. Drivers can also legally communicate with others while driving if using a device attached to the wrist, ultimately freeing the hands to control the vehicle. A driver who is stopped at a traffic light can use a phone with his or her hands. However, it is illegal to use a phone while stopped at a stop sign.
There is an exception to these rules when motorists are using their phone to report an on-road emergency. Furthermore, the ban on texting while driving law is inapplicable to emergency communication devices that are used with a subscription, radios, prescribed medical devices and in-vehicle navigation/security systems. When in doubt, turn on the “do not disturb” feature so the temptation to use your phone does not arise when operating a motor vehicle. The last thing you need is for a traffic stop for texting while driving to lead to a sobriety test and a DUI criminal charge.