Hands-free Arizona law goes into effect

The final phase of Arizona’s statewide texting and driving ban has gone into effect. As of Jan. 1, 2021, violators of the state’s hands-free law, HB 2318, are subject to civil penalties. The first violation will result in a $75-$149 fine; subsequent violations can cost as much as $250, plus applicable surcharges.

In April 2019, Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation that banned the use of hand-held mobile devices like cell phones and tablets while driving a vehicle. On Jan. 1, 2021, it became illegal for drivers on all Arizona roadways to talk or text on a device not engaged in hands-free mode. A number of local jurisdictions enacted primary hands-free ordinances that allowed their law enforcement officers to cite drivers for cell phone use.

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; 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 and 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 and 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, or when using an audible turn-by turn navigation system providing the licensee does not enter the location manually or make any manual adjustments to the device while driving.


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