Arizona passed a law outlawing the use of handheld cellphones while driving. Continue reading to learn more about this new law, when it takes effect, and what it means for your insurance policy.
What Does the Law Ban?
The law bans the use of a handheld cellphone while behind the wheel. This includes voice calls, texts, and social media use.
Drivers can use a phone in hands-free mode, such as connecting it to their car’s Bluetooth, subject to general distracted driving laws. In other words, a police officer won’t pull you over for using a phone in hands-free mode, but you could still be cited if the officer believes your phone use is causing you to swerve or take other dangerous actions. The only change in the law is that using a phone in your hands is a separate offense officers will ticket you for.
When Does the Law Take Effect?
Unlike most new laws, the handheld cellphone ban took effect as soon as the governor signed it rather than being delayed until a certain date. From now until January 1, 2021, drivers who are stopped under the new law will only receive a warning. After that, violations will result in fines.
Note that any local handheld cellphone bans are still valid through 2021. If a city or county has already passed an ordinance carrying a fine, they can continue to enforce it. The statewide waiting period does not prevent fines under existing local laws.
What Are the Fines for Violating the Arizona Handheld Cellphone Ban?
After the initial warning period, the fines for a first violation will be $75 to $149. Fines for additional violations will be $150 to $250.
Why is This Law Happening Now?
The law follows a string of deadly crashes caused by drivers who were distracted by their cellphone use. Families of victims and law enforcement urged lawmakers to introduce legislation to prevent future incidents. They cited studies showing that fatal accidents fell by 16% after handheld cellphone bans were passed in other states.
Lawmakers decided to include a warning period as a way of educating drivers. They stated that the overall goal is to change people’s driving behavior and would prefer to have zero citations issued because everyone follows the law.
Will a Ticket for Handheld Cellphone Use Affect Your Insurance Rates?
Each insurance company uses its own formula to determine insurance rates, but it is likely that receiving a ticket under this law would cause your car insurance rates to increase. First, moving violations are already used to determine how careful of a driver you are when setting your insurance rates. Second, since handheld cellphone use has been directly tied to causing more accidents, insurance companies are unlikely to consider this a minor violation that might be ignored such as a broken taillight.
On the other hand, if you’re a safe driver, you could see a reduced premium after this law goes into effect if it helps to decrease accidents in your area.
To learn more about how your insurance rates are set or to compare quotes, talk to All Arizona Insurance, Inc. today.