Arizona Capitol

Arizona's Broken-Taillight Loophole May Be Closed by Lawmakers

Arizona lawmakers are looking to close a loophole that prevents police from pulling over drivers with a busted taillight.

This loophole was realized a few years ago, when a Tucson man beat a DUI charge after the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that the state law is ambiguous when it comes to how many working taillights a driver needs.

The Arizona House of Representatives voted 57-2 yesterday to close that loophole.

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Lawmakers didn't even discuss the bill yesterday, but at a committee hearing earlier this month, it was explained that the change was indeed due to that court case.

"What we're left with, essentially here in Arizona since 2011 [there] is no operable brake-light requirement," said Tucson Police Sergeant Jason Winsky, who's the government-affairs director for the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Arizona.

Part of the state's law says "a stop lamp" needs to be in good working condition, which apparently creates the loophole that you can have one or two busted taillights, as long as another one is working.

We checked with the Arizona Department of Public Safety to make sure that this loophole actually exists (for now).

"Recent case law and the state Attorney General has asked DPS to stop vehicles with no working tail lights, as the courts feel one working light meets the current requirement in the law," DPS Officer Tanner Skousen tells New Times.

However, it doesn't look like this loophole's going to last for long, given the overwhelming support from lawmakers so far. The bill still needs to pass the Senate before heading to the governor's desk.

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley