A proposal to prohibit drivers from texting was unanimously approved by The Senate Committee on Transportation and Technology earlier this week. Although Arizona passed a bill last year that bans drivers under age 18 from using any wireless device while driving, the state is yet to extend the provision to all drivers regardless of age.
Senate Bill 1261 would impose a fine of between $25 and $99 for a first offense of and between $100 and $200 for a subsequent offense. But, the penalties become much more severe in texting and driving cases that result in the serious injury or death of another person. Defendants could be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor and receive a fine of up to $4,000.
47 other states already have laws regarding distracted driving, but Arizona, Missouri and Montana are yet to pass statewide bans on texting and driving. Several families that’ve lost loved one’s due to distracted driving spoke to legislators in hopes of persuading them to support the ban. Susan Huff’s father, Tom Hall, was killed while riding his motorcycle when he was hit by an adult driver distracted by their phone. She shared a photo of her father and wept while saying, “I can tell you right now, this is a whole different atmosphere. When I was here then, I had no hope that this was going to pass.”
Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson sponsored the bill. He’s been advocating for similar legislation since 2007. “I’m very optimistic,” Farley said in an interview with The Arizona Republic. The bill would provide “affirmative defense” exceptions that would allow drivers to still use their devices for navigation, to report emergencies or illegal activity, or to activate music.