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Posted on May 31, 2016 in Crime,Drunk Driving,Traffic Violations

Phoenix, AZ DUI Laws: Distracted Driving vs. Drunk Driving

Driving a car is an immense responsibility – a fact many drivers don’t appreciate until they’re involved in an accident. Arizona is working hard to mitigate two problems – driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs and driving while distracted. These actions lead to thousands of fatal accidents every year, and both have a startling effect on a driver’s reaction time and his or her ability to operate a vehicle safely on our roadways.

Arizona’s DUI Laws

First of all, if you or a loved one has been involved in a serious collision, you’ll likely face medical bills, property damage, and other expenses – in addition to the possibility of the collision permanently affecting your quality of life. If this happens, it is vitally important to have a qualified attorney by your side. Reach out to a DUI defense attorney at Orent Law Offices for more information. Our compassionate experts are standing by to protect your rights in Arizona.

DUI laws in Arizona account for drivers operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol – including over-the-counter or prescribed medications. More than 5,600 collisions (including 233 fatal accidents) in Arizona involved a driver who had been drinking or appeared to be under the influence of drugs or medication.

Consequences for a DUI are based on the number of offenses committed:

First Offense

The penalties for a first-time DUI include up to 10 days in jail, a $250 fine, and license suspension for up to 360 days.

Second Offense

A second offense warrants a greater penalty, including 30 to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, and license suspension for up to one year.

Third Offense

A third DUI can land the perpetrator a minimum of four months in jail. His or her license will be suspended for one year, and the driver must pay a $750 fine.

Though federal and local governments put these measures in place to punish drunk drivers, DUIs aren’t the only type of negligence that contributes to collisions.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

When you think of distracted driving, you may picture a teen texting on his or her cell phone. While that is obviously an issue, many reported distracted driving accidents don’t involve a cell phone at all.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety collected crash data from November 2013 to April 2014. From 10,166 crashes in that period, the following distractions were reported:

  • External distractions (22%) – this includes looking at any roadside object (e.g., a billboard or another car) as well as rubbernecking
  • Reaching for an object in the cab (11%) – many drivers are guilty of multitasking (i.e. fiddling with a radio or GPS, juggling a sandwich and drink, or trying to pick up something they dropped on the passenger’s side floor), all of which are dangerous distractions
  • Cell phones (11%) – this includes texting, talking on the phone or using the cell phone for other purposes while operating a motor vehicle

Distracted Driving vs. Drunk Driving

Distracted driving is a pervasive problem: The Arizona Department of Public Safety reported that 11% of all accidents (including 10 fatalities) from November 2013 to April 2014 were because of distracted drivers. Though DUIs are reported more frequently and appear to be a bigger issue, Arizona still has plenty of work to do.

The majority of states have laws prohibiting cell phone use or texting, either in certain areas or under other specific conditions. For example, school bus or novice drivers may not use phones while operating a vehicle. Hand-held phone use is not allowed at all in 14 states – drivers may make calls wirelessly, although that is still a significant source of distraction. An officer doesn’t need any other reason to issue a citation; if you break these laws, you may be pulled over and ticketed.

Though the dangers of DUIs in Arizona are more clearly documented, distracted driving presents a significant problem on our roadways. It is often a challenge to prove that a driver was distracted and thus acted negligently. Regardless, these issues lead to thousands of fatal accidents every year. Though there are punitive measures in place as well as awareness initiatives to keep people from driving irresponsibly, some people will always ignore these laws.