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Arizona Sets a Texting Ban

By The Husband and Wife Law Team on May 14, 2019

Until recently, Arizona, along with Montana and Missouri, was one of three states that did not have a statewide ban on texting while driving. Many AZ cities had enacted laws banning cellphone use in some form, but only now has the ban become statewide.

Drivers who engage in texting while driving are a major factor in the increase in distracted driving accidents across the country. According to the National Safety Council:

  • 6 million accidents are the result of cell phone use while driving.
  • One out of every four car accidents is a direct result of texting while driving.
  • At least 390,000 injuries are a result of texting while driving.

A Lesson for Everyone

Teens, as a group, are believed to be more likely to respond to an incoming text than older drivers. Young adults may believe they have one or two seconds to quickly read a text, but this is misleading. Many drivers’ education courses now use a video to bring this point home. They have the group focus on “the road,” then buzz in a text notification and, in that brief instant, while the teens check their phones, the video plays a loud crash to show how quickly everything can change.

We all hope this strategy will prove to be an effective wake-up call.

Many drivers who text while driving consider it multitasking. But what is considered “multitasking” is actually switching one’s attention from one thing to another rapidly. While teen drivers are often accused of being the biggest offenders, a shocking number of adult drivers—about 49%–are guilty as well.

What Prompted the Ban?

There had been a number of attempts to pass a statewide ban, to no avail. It was the tragic death of Salt River Police Officer Clayton Townsend that brought the issue to the fore.

Officer Townsend was standing by the side of the road for a routine traffic stop when a car veered off the road and struck him. The driver was charged with manslaughter, endangerment, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Although he admitted to texting while driving, he pled not guilty to the charges.

Within a few days of the death of Officer Townsend, Republican State Representative John Kavanaugh introduced a bill banning texting while driving. His bill proposed a fine of $100 for the first violation, a fine of $300 for the second violation, a fine of $500 if the behavior led to a crash, and $10,000 if the act caused another person’s death.

The law was passed in April 2019, with the following penalties:

  • For a first-time violation, a driver will be fined between $75 and $149.
  • For all subsequent violations, a driver will be fined between $150 and $250.
  • The consequences beyond a fine will be based on the facts of the situation. There are exemptions for emergency calls.

Although the law has been enacted, police offers will not be giving out citations until 2021. In some jurisdictions, police may only be allowed to issue a citation if you are holding or using a cellphone when they pull you over for some other driving violation. In some jurisdictions, they need only to see you holding the cell phone to stop and ticket you.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Phoenix

If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident in Phoenix, you want knowledgeable and experienced lawyer you can trust to go the distance for you. The Husband and Wife Law Team at Breyer Law Offices, P.C., has received numerous accolades and membership in a number of prestigious groups, including the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. We have been voted Best Law Firm and have been recognized for both our legal abilities and ethics.

Mark Breyer is a certified specialist in injury and wrongful death law in Arizona, a designation that about 1% all lawyers in the state have earned. We work on a contingency-fee basis, which means there are no upfront costs or out-of-pocket expenses for you. We are only paid when your case is settled. Call us today at (602) 457-6222 for a free case evaluation.

Posted in: Distracted Driving

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