Distracted driving law

By: 
DONALD WATTS, Lessons from the Bench
Recently, a defendant appeared in my court for a hearing to dispute a ticket that he received while operating a motor vehicle. He had been cited for failure to control his vehicle, which caused an accident. During the hearing, the officer explained that the defendant hit a total of four vehicles, one after another. One can only imagine what a mess this caused on the roadway during rush hour. When it was the defendant’s opportunity to explain what happened, he told me that it was “OK” that these accidents happened because he had been texting while driving. Obviously, I found him responsible for all of the traffic accidents.

It seems this accident could have easily been avoided by simply not texting and driving. As a response to this issue, the cell industry has developed apps to better control cell use while driving. The automotive industry has put hands free systems in the cars. Now, local government has adopted rules that only permit use of cell phones if you are using a mobile device in a hands-free mode. Specifically, the city of Surprise has adopted this city ordinance. Be sure to visit its web page for all the details.

Additionally, Arizona law allows drivers between the ages of 15 years and 6 months and 18 years to be cited for using their cell phones. However, officers cannot pull over a juvenile for just this offense, a separate offense must be identified first. As an example if an officer pulls a juvenile over for running a stop sign and then learns he was on the phone, the driver can be cited for distracted driving. The fines increase with each offense.

However, there is a new law in the city of Surprise, which allows officers to pull you over if they see you using a cell phone improperly while driving. This can be a primary offense. If you are issued a citation, the fine may be as high as $250. To be clear, you are allowed to use your phone in Surprise if you are using it in a hands-free mode.
 
Lesson from the bench: I know you and everyone around you wants to get home safe; do your part by paying attention to your driving, not your phone.
Judge Watts’ webpage is DonaldWatts.info.

The Glendale Star

The Glendale Star
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Glendale, AZ 85301-2436
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Peoria Times
7122 N. 59th Ave
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