Tempe, AZ Enacts Tough Penalties for Texting and Driving

Getting distracted while drivingArizona is one of only two states left without any kind of statewide ban on texting and driving. (Montana is the other.) The most recent effort to get one on the books failed earlier this year.

Driving safety advocates are up in arms over the state’s sluggish response to the epidemic of texting-related deaths in The Grand Canyon State, and while they wait for another bill to inevitably make its way to the state legislature, they’ve taken their concerns to local governments as well.

A number of cities throughout Arizona, including Phoenix, have already enacted their own local bans on texting while driving, creating some considerable inconsistency for those traveling from one town to the next.

Now the city of Tempe has stepped in with its own prohibition on texting and driving, complete with penalties that are significantly tougher than any other Arizona town’s.

As reported at AZCentral.com, the consequences look like this:

• First offense: $100 fine
• Second offense: $250 fine
• Third offense within a two-year period: $500 fine

The range of prohibited activity is much broader in Tempe than in Phoenix. While the latter’s ban applies specifically to texting, Tempe gives police broader discretion for any evidence of distraction caused by the handheld use of a cell phone. So while neither talking nor texting are specifically banned in Tempe, either can trigger fines if they cause the driver to swerve or otherwise engage in dangerous driving.

Whether Tempe’s ordinance will run into the same enforceability issues that Phoenix’s ban has faced remains to be seen.

With so many different local laws now in effect throughout Arizona, a driver’s best bet is simply to play it safe: put down the phone while on the go.

As Phoenix auto accident attorneys, we’ve seen far too many tragedies unfold as a result of texting behind the wheel. It’s a common practice but a deadly one, and we applaud any effort to curb the rate of driver negligence in our state.

If you or a loved one has been impacted by the out-of-control trend of texting while driving in Arizona, Kamper Estrada, LLP can help. Contact us today.