It is now illegal in Arizona to talk or text on a cellphone while driving, unless the cellphone is in a hands-free mode.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill April 22 that enacted a statewide ban on handheld cellphone use while driving.
Here are five things you need to know about the new rule:
Can you talk on cellphone while driving in Arizona?
The law specifically prohibits drivers from any kind of cellphone use while driving — including to talk, text, type or browse social-media — unless they are using the device hands-free.
The following cellphone use is against the law while driving:
-Holding a cellphone in any way while talking on the phone, including propping it up with a shoulder.
-Writing, sending or reading any text-based communication including a text, instant message or email.
-Watching any kind of video or recording video.
The following cellphone use is allowed while driving:
-Swiping a phone screen to make or accept a phone call.
-Talking on the phone if using an earpiece, car speaker system, headphone device or device worn on a wrist.
-Using voice-based communication, such as a talk-to-text function.
-Using a GPS system.
-Using a handheld cellphone while stopped at a traffic light or stop light.
-Using a handheld cellphone to call 911.
The law applies not just to cellphones but to any kind of portable wireless communication device or standalone electronic device.
There are certain exceptions, including for officials who respond to emergencies, and people who are witnessing a crime or in need of emergency help.
The law does not apply to radios, citizen band radio, citizens band radio hybrid, commercial two-way radios, subscription-based emergency communication devices, prescribed medical devices, amateur or ham radio devices, or in-vehicle security, navigation or remote diagnostics systems.
When does the cellphone ban take effect?
Police officers can issue warnings to drivers immediately.
Officers can’t ticket drivers for breaking the law until Jan. 1, 2021.
What are the fines for using a cellphone while driving?
In 2021, officers who see drivers using their phones can cite them.
Breaking the law is a primary offense, which means that police can pull over drivers for this reason alone.
The first time, a driver will be fined between $75 and $149. The second time and every time after that, a driver will be fined between $150 and $250.
Officers who stop drivers for breaking this law can’t take possession of a cellphone or inspect it.
Do city laws still matter?
Before Arizona enacted the statewide ban, many cities in Arizona already banned cellphone use while driving in some form.
In the Phoenix area:
El Mirage – prohibits handheld-cellphone use while driving.
Fountain Hills – prohibits texting while driving.
Glendale – prohibits handheld-cellphone use while driving.
Phoenix – prohibits texting while driving.
Surprise – prohibits handheld-cellphone use while driving.
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community – prohibits texting while driving.
Tempe – prohibits handheld-cellphone use while driving.
In the cities that already ban hand-held cellphone use while driving, those laws will stay in effect until the state law replaces them on Jan. 1, 2021.
In the cities that don’t, those cities can still enact laws that cites drivers earlier than the new state law.
In what states is it illegal to text and drive?
Before this year, Arizona lawmakers had proposed related laws for more than a decade.
Before the new law was enacted, there was already a distracted driving law in Arizona that wasn’t specific to cellphone use, and texting while driving was prohibited for new, teen drivers, but there was no overall hand-held cellphone ban for all drivers.
Now that Arizona has enacted this law, there are only two states — Missouri and Montana — without a texting ban for all drivers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Including Arizona, 17 states have a blanket ban on handheld-cellphone use while driving.
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