Arizona’s New Cell Phone Law comes into effect January 21st 2021

In today’s day and age, technology has allowed for most of us to have the simple convenience of our work place in our hands at all times with a mobile device. For REALTORS®, this technology allows us to easily conduct business on the go. In Arizona, however, the laws surrounding the use of handheld devices have been silent, often defaulting to distracted driving laws or a piecemeal of city ordinances that ban the practice of texting while driving.

Over the years, many attempts have been made by our elected officials to pass legislation prohibiting the use of handheld devices. Unfortunately, it took the death of Salt River Police Officer, Clayton Townsend, to finally motivate the legislature to act and pass a bill to prohibit the use of such devices while operating a motor vehicle.

On April 22, 2019, Governor Doug Ducey signed into law HB 2318: Texting While Driving; Prohibition; Enforcement. Upon his signature, the bill became effective immediately.

Here is what you need to know about the legislation.

  • The bill prohibits a person unless parked or stopped, from operating a motor vehicle on a street or highway if the person does either:
    • Physically holds or supports with any part of the person’s body either:
      • A portable wireless communication device, except when used with an earpiece or headphone device or wrist-worn device to conduct voice-based communication; or
      • A stand-alone electronic device.
    • Writes, sends or reads any text-based communication, including a text message, instant message, e-mail or internet data, on a portable wireless communication device or stand-alone electronic device, excluding the following:
      • A voice-based communication to direct the writing, sending reading or other communicating of any text-based communication; and
      • The use of a portable wireless communication device or stand-alone device when used in a hands-free manner for navigation of the motor vehicle, use of a global positioning system, or obtaining motor vehicle information or information related to driving a motor vehicle.

 Penalties for Violation

Though the legislation became effective upon signature of the governor, the penalties for a violation have a delayed effective date. A peace officer who stops a motor vehicle for an alleged violation is prohibited from issuing a citation for a violation before January 1, 2021, and may only issue a warning from the effective date of the legislation through December 31, 2020.

Once the penalties become effective on January 1, 2021, violations are imposed as follows:

  • At least $75, but not more than $149, for an initial violation;
  • At least $150, but not more than $250, for a second or subsequent violation.

At the bill signing ceremony, Governor Doug Ducey recognized the many families that have been impacted by the use of handheld devices while driving. He thanked the various legislators that stepped up to the plate to champion the legislation. The ceremony concluded with a statement by Governor Ducey, “It’s common sense and will save lives. The text message can wait, it is not worth your life.”

Jay Bru



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