Is It Illegal to Talk on the Phone While Driving in Arizona?

arizona's hands-free law

Is It Illegal to Talk on the Phone While Driving in Arizona?

Distracted driving kills thousands of people each year in the United States, and, in 2019, Arizona introduced a distracted driving law banning texting and other handheld cellphone use while driving. At Van Norman Law, we want to help you understand your rights when it comes to Arizona’s hands-free law and car accidents involving distracted driving. Continue reading to learn more about using a phone while driving in Arizona. 

Arizona’s Hands-Free Driving Law

Distractions such as texting and driving lead to serious and often fatal car accidents. In 2020 alone, distracted driving caused 3,142 deaths in the United States. Arizona is cracking down on texting while driving with its recent hands-free driving law. 

In an effort to keep Arizona’s roads as safe as possible, this distracted driving law doesn’t just apply to texting. Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 28-914 prohibits the use of any handheld portable wireless communication device or stand-alone electronic device while driving.

The term “portable wireless communication device” refers to cell phones, GPS devices, computers, tablets, and similar devices. A stand-alone electronic device is any other type of portable device capable of storing retrievable audio and video data, such as digital cameras and portable music players. 

According to ARS 28-914, it is illegal to do any of the following while driving:

  • Use a cellphone or other electronic device that requires any use of your body, like holding a phone in your hand or propped up on your shoulder
  • Write, send, or read any text message, email, or other text-based communication on a cellphone or other electronic device
  • Scroll through social media
  • Watch or record videos 

Can you use a cellphone at all while driving?

You can still use your cellphone or another electronic device while driving in Arizona as long as it is in hands-free mode. For example, using a Bluetooth device or an earpiece is considered hands-free. 

Under ARS 28-914, it is only legal to use a hands-free electronic device while driving to:

  • Answer or end a phone call, start GPS directions, or otherwise engage/disengage a device function
  • Speak using an earpiece, headphones, or a wrist device
  • Operate voice-to-text or other voice-based communication while the device is in a docking station 
  • Call 911 to summon help in an emergency or to report a crime  
  • Follow GPS navigation

Penalties for Violating Arizona’s Hands-Free Driving Law

When the hands-free law was first introduced in Arizona, police officers could only issue warnings to those who violated the new law. However, as of January 2021, police officers can now enforce the law with fines. A first violation can earn you between $75 and $149 in fines. Subsequent violations will result in fines ranging from $150 to $250.

Can an officer confiscate your phone?

If a police officer pulls you over for using a cellphone while driving in Arizona, they cannot confiscate or inspect the phone. A police officer can ask you to hand over and unlock your phone, but you have the right to deny their request. In Arizona, police officers are not allowed to search your phone without a warrant. 

Car Accident Lawyer in Scottsdale

Were you recently injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver in Arizona? You have up to two years after the date of a car accident to file a personal injury claim, but it is better to contact a lawyer sooner rather than later. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Van Norman Law in Scottsdale will help you collect the compensation you deserve. Call  480-481-0616 today to schedule a free consultation.

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (4/19/2022). Photo by melissa mjoen on Unsplash