DPS Plans on Giving Speeding Tickets to People Caught Texting While Driving

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (Highway Patrol) plans to issue speeding tickets to people caught texting while driving, starting next year.

This is due to an interpretation of state law that says you can't drive at a speed "greater than is reasonable and prudent."

DPS spokesman Bart Graves told the Arizona Daily Star, "Any speed is not reasonable when you're texting, because you're not fully in control of your driving."

"We are still developing the program, but that is the law we are using," Graves tells New Times.

Word to the wise: "Texting" is probably a blanket term meaning any staring at a cellphone while driving.

While this creative enforcement is being planned, there are still some people trying to specifically ban texting while driving.

Democratic State Senator Steve Farley was the first legislator in the country (according to him) to propose a texting-while-driving ban, back in 2007. The Legislature still hasn't passed his proposal, even though he's repeatedly proposed it.

Even the cops are texting while driving, as you may recall this photo from earlier in the year, of Tempe Police Officer Heith Fink texting while driving his police motorcycle on a highway:

DPS will do some public announcements about the texting/speeding tickets when the time comes.

You can read the law on "reasonable and prudent" speeds on the next page:

28-701. Reasonable and prudent speed; prima facie evidence; exceptions

A. A person shall not drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances, conditions and actual and potential hazards then existing. A person shall control the speed of a vehicle as necessary to avoid colliding with any object, person, vehicle or other conveyance on, entering or adjacent to the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to exercise reasonable care for the protection of others.

B. Except as provided in subsections C and D of this section or except if a special hazard requires a lesser speed, any speed in excess of the following speeds is prima facie evidence that the speed is too great and therefore unreasonable:

1. Fifteen miles per hour approaching a school crossing.

2. Twenty-five miles per hour in a business or residential district.

3. Sixty-five miles per hour in other locations.

C. The speed limits prescribed in this section may be altered as authorized in sections 28-702 and 28-703.

D. The maximum speed provided in this section is reduced to the speed that is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and with regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing, including the following conditions:

1. Approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad crossing.

2. Approaching and going around a curve.

3. Approaching a hillcrest.

4. Traveling on a narrow or winding roadway.

5. A special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.

E. A person shall not drive a motor vehicle at a speed that is less than the speed that is reasonable and prudent under existing conditions unless the speed that is reasonable and prudent exceeds the maximum safe operating speed of the lawfully operated implement of husbandry.

Send feedback and tips to the author.
Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley