Tempe Distracted Driving Ordinance Update – What You Need to Know

Lerner & Rowe Law Group
texting distracted driving
City of Tempe, Arizona Updated Distracted Driving Ordinance to Include Texting While Driving

Recently, the City of Tempe, Arizona updated local Ordinance 02019.07 regarding the unlawful use of a mobile device. As of April 1, 2019, Tempe police can now stop someone for holding a mobile device while driving. Previously, law enforcement officers could only stop a motorist if he or she had committed another traffic violation, such as erratic driving.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, distracted driving kills approximately 9 people every day in the United States. If you are accused of a distracted driving offense that involves injury or property damage, contact Lerner and Rowe Law Group. Our award-winning lawyers will ensure that your rights are protected, as well as look for ways to prove innocence or lessen penalties when possible.   

Tempe Drivers – Keep Two Hands on the Wheel

distracted driver
Driving tip: keep both hands on the wheel and eyes focused forward.

The update to Ordinance 02019.07 is part of Tempe’s Vision Zero initiative, which is an effort to reduce the number of serious injury crashes and traffic fatalities to zero.

Five key takeaways of the stricter hands-free driving law you need to know are:  

  1. Tempe’s distracted driving ordinance was updated to a primary offense. In the prior ordinance from 2015,  it was listed as a secondary offense.
  2. Tempe Police are now allowed to cite drivers for holding, typing on, or operating a mobile device while driving. Previously, police could only cite drivers if they could prove drivers posed a risk to themselves or others while talking on the phone or texting. (Police no longer need to prove probable cause.)
  3. Mobile devices must be used in hands-free or voice-operated modes while driving.
  4. New changes take immediate effect under an emergency clause.
  5. There is a 30-day education period before any citations will be issued.

The exceptions to this updated local ordinance include if a driver is using a mobile device while:

  • parked on the side of a road
  • stopped at a railroad crossing
  • stopped at a red light

Emergency responders and drivers reporting to a medical emergency, safety hazard, or criminal activity are also exempt.

Penalties for Distracted and Texting While Driving Offenses

police pulling over distracrted driver
Police car about to pull over a driver for distracted driving.

Even though the local ordinance was updated, penalties established in 2015 for Tempe distracted driving and texting while driving offenses remain the same.  

  • First offense. Drivers are subject to a $100 fine, plus penalty.
  • Second offense. Drivers are subject to a $250 fine, plus penalty.
  • Repeated incidents within a 24-month period. Driver will incur a $500 fine, plus penalty.

Tempe’s city-specific ordinance will continue to hold until the state of Arizona adopts a statewide bill regarding distracted driving and texting while driving. If you find yourself on the wrong end of a reckless driving and endangerment charge from driving distracted or texting while driving, contact Lerner and Rowe Law Group’s team of criminal lawyers today.

Texting while Driving and DUI

Because the texting while driving ordinance has been promoted to a primary offense, police may stop your vehicle solely for perceived unlawful cell phone use. This could potentially result in an unwanted DUI investigation if you use your phone while driving home from a bar or restaurant and police see you.

For example, many people use navigation apps to find the quickest way home, holding their phone in one hand, and the steering wheel in the other. Unfortunately, under the revised ordinance, this could be a basis for police to stop your vehicle. If upon contact police observe possible signs or symptoms of impairment, they will conduct a DUI investigation.

Arizona City and County Distracted Driving Laws Outside of Tempe

Cities outside of Tempe, Arizona that prohibit handheld-cellphone use while driving include:

  • Bisbee
  • Clifton
  • Chino Valley
  • El Mirage
  • Glendale
  • Kingman
  • Oro Valley
  • Prescott
  • San Luis
  • Sedona
  • Surprise
  • Tucson
  • Yuma

Arizona cities that only prohibit texting while driving include:

  • Flagstaff
  • Fountain Hills
  • Phoenix
  • Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community

Arizona counties that also prohibit handheld cellphone use while driving are:

When to Contact a Vehicular Crimes Attorney in Tempe

If you or a loved one has been accused of acting negligently while driving and faces more than a basic traffic offense, please contact our vehicular crimes attorneys in Tempe.

Our legal team understands that just because a split second decision can change your life forever doesn’t mean that your legal defense should be handled just a quickly. Please call (602) 667-777 day or night, or feel free to connect online 24/7 with a LiveChat client representatives now.

When you do, don’t forget to ask about our law firm’s affordable payment plans offered on a per client, per case basis.  

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.