Attention Tucson drivers: Ordinance means put the phone down
Then-freshman student Kirk Davis uses SafeRide’s old app, Transloc Rider, to order a SafeRide car on Sept. 30, 2016. With the passage of a recent City of Tucson ordinance, it is now a primary offence to use your hands to make a call with your cell phone.
A new hands-free ordinance has been implemented in the City of Tucson. A driver can now be pulled over by police in Tucson for using their phones while driving.
The Tucson City Council voted 4-1 last month to establish that using a cellphone while driving is a primary offense. A grace period, which started on Feb. 1 and will last until March 3, is in place to allow drivers to prepare for the new change.
Violating the hands-free ordinance in the past was established as being a secondary offense. A secondary offense, in this case, means police would need an additional reason besides phone use to write up a ticket.
Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik supported the change in the law: “I thought this should have been a primary offense seven months ago when the council made it a secondary offense.”
During the grace period, drivers will receive a warning from the police; no citation will be given. Starting March 3, if a driver is caught using a cell phone, then police will issue a ticket.
The ordinance prohibits the use of cell phones at all times including when a driver is at a red light or a stop sign. A driver that violates the ordinance and is not involved in a car accident will receive a $50 penalty for the first violation. However, there are a few exceptions:
- A driver using a cell phone to contact a hospital, fire department, law enforcement personnel, health clinic, ambulance company or an emergency response operator.
- Utilizing hands-free methods such as connecting the call to the car’s system via Bluetooth, placing the phone on a car phone-mount, etc.
- Law enforcement personnel and people operating an emergency vehicle that is authorized may use their portable electronic device, or phones, while using the vehicle.
A second violation will result in a $100 penalty, and the third or additional violations will result in a $200 penalty each time.
In the case of both violating the ordinance and being involved in a car accident, the driver is subject to receiving a minimum penalty of $250.
He said one of the benefits of Tucson enforcing the ordinance is that it brings the city into compliance with other nearby municipalities and county governments, such as the Town of Oro Valley and Pima County.
Kozachik said the hands-free ordinance should be established on a state level and hopes the ordinance becomes a statewide initiative.
This ordeal should have been done all at once and in unity with the whole state, he said. “Forty-seven states have this hands-free ordinance, and unfortunately, the state of Arizona is one of the outliers.”
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