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City of Tempe Passes Texting and Driving Law

March 1, 2019 Hastings and Hastings

In the city of Tempe, Arizona, the texting and driving laws have become stricter. In a unanimous decision, the Tempe City Council decided to approve a harsher law that bans a driver from using a handheld device while behind the wheel.

The city of Tempe was the first in Arizona to pass any type of distracted driving ordinance all the way back in 2015. This ordinance made it illegal to talk or text on the phone while driving, but only if the police were able to prove the person caught in the act posed some type of risk to other people or to themselves, and it was considered a secondary offense.

With this law in place, officers can actually stop Tempe drivers if they notice they are holding any type of mobile device in their hand while behind the wheel. This is true regardless of if the person is talking into it or typing on it. It is also now considered a primary offense, which means officers can stop a driver if they even see them holding a device.

It is permissible to use your mobile device if you are hands-free, if you have stopped at a red light, or if you have parked off the road. The law is not exactly clear regarding if a driver is allowed to touch their device while it is mounted or if it is sitting in their lap.

According to some people in the city, this law may be subject to some level of interpretation. According to the language of the statue, it’s referring to the manual operation of the device. As a result, it would mean any time a driver used their hands, but it also refers to typing. As a result, that too would be covered by the ordinance and would be banned. If it is just a single swipe though, and that is all that is being done, then this may be an exception. Other exceptions would apply to a driver responding to some type of medical emergency, emergency responders, safety hazard situations, or any criminal activity situations.

Now, more cities are starting to pass their own laws regarding texting and driving since there is still not a statewide ban in place in Arizona.

Even if a state law were to be put in place it would not go into effect until the year 2021, which is quite a while away. As a result, the city decided to take matters into their own hands and make a commonsense law and then when the state adopts one in the future, the laws will be aligned.

The city is clearly pushing to encourage those in Tempe to be safer while on the roads. In fact, the city council also introduced this particular proposal as a larger national initiative to help reduce the total number of serious and fatal auto accidents.

Around the nation, approximately 10 percent of the 35,000 people who passed away in a car accident during the year 2015 died due to a distracted driver. Even locally this has been a factor, as a tribal police officer in Salt River was struck and killed by someone driving and looking down at their phone.

It’s important to note, the state of Arizona does prohibit any texting and driving for teen drivers; however, there’s no prohibition statewide on hand held phone usage.

If you are ever in a situation where you have been injured in any way due to the actions of a distracted driver then you need to protect your rights. Hiring an attorney is the best way to do this. The attorneys at Hastings & Hastings will review your case, gather evidence, and help you recover compensation for the damages and injuries you have suffered. This is the best way to help ensure you receive justice for the actions of distracted driver.