Earlier this month legislation to ban texting while driving in Arizona had been struck down by the Senate, amended and then later sent back for another round of approval.
As of yesterday, that ban on texting behind the wheel looks to be closer to becoming law than ever before.
SB 1334, authored by Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, passed 19-10 with bipartisan support in the Senate and was sent to the House yesterday. The same bill foundered on the Senate floor last session.
There are still many legislators who oppose the bill, calling it “feel good legislation.”
One such person is Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, who called the measure unenforceable “feel good legislation” and said that texting while driving is already punishable under Arizona’s statute against reckless driving.
Gould says that most of the public doesn’t realize that texting while driving can already be cited under reckless driving, for which the fine is currently set at $250. He fears that a specific ban on texting while driving as a separate infraction will actually water down a reckless driving fine.
The fine for texting behind the wheel is set to cost $50 and could increase to $200 if you cause an accident because of texting. Both figures below the reckless driving fine amount.
Gould feels confident that there would not be so much support behind this ban if more of the general public knew it was already a fineable offense.
Already an issue in Maricopa County, some have expressed concern that the law will result in racial profiling.
A recent poll by AAA Arizona, which lobbied for the bill, found that nine out of 10 Arizonans support the ban. A bevy of cell phone companies, car insurers, law enforcement organizations and health care providers registered their support for Melvin’s bill.
It may not be long now before texting while driving will be a punishable offense in its own right, but remember to be safe behind the wheel always. And don’t forget that you can currently be fined for reckless driving if your texting impairs your driving or if you become a hazard on the roadways.
This post was intended to provide general information only and is not intended as specific legal advice. You should not rely upon this information alone, but should consult legal counsel regarding the application of the laws and regulations discussed and as applied to your specific case or circumstance.