Texting While Driving in Arizona

Though the dangers of texting and driving are now well known and firmly established, and despite the introduction of several bills geared towards formally banning texting while behind the wheel, Arizona remains one of nine states that has yet to adopt a formal texting while driving ban. While the issue of whether or not such a ban is appropriate continues to be debated, the lack of a formal ban on texting and driving does not necessarily absolve a driver of any liability should texting lead to an accident, thanks to Arizona’s statutes regarding reckless driving.

Current Arizona reckless driving statutes state that an individual is guilty of reckless driving if they operate a vehicle “in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Those convicted of reckless driving are guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor, and, if certain aggravating factors apply, a conviction could result in a jail sentence.

So while the act of checking your messages while driving may not be illegal in and of itself, doing so could very well constitute reckless driving under particular circumstances, especially in situations involving an accident, thereby leaving a careless driver open to liability for any damages that may come as a result. In the wake of an accident, whether or not the driver was using his or her phone is always a factor to be considered, and it’s now common practice for responding officers to note whether the use of cell phones was a contributing factor in any accident scenario.

In other states such as New Jersey, the liability for texting while driving even extends to those who are at home texting people they know are driving. NJ Court of Appeals held, “when a texter knows or has special reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the text message while driving, the texter has a duty to users of the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time.” The New Jersey ruling is extreme, but certainly shows the national trend that states are trying to protect their citizens by cracking down on texting while driving.

While texting and driving may not be expressly forbidden, current studies leave no doubt as to the dangers it poses to anyone within the vicinity of a distracted drivers. But despite the absence of a clear cut ban, current Arizona law means that texting, along with any other activities that prevent drivers from giving the road their undivided attention, could lead to criminal consequences.

If you have questions about criminal charges related to texting while driving, or if you have been injured in an accident due to someone else texting while driving, contact The Carroll Law Firm.

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