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A Primer on Basic Traffic Laws of Arizona

cars driving on the highwayEven if you’ve been driving for years, it’s a good idea to review Arizona traffic laws to keep you and your passengers safe on the road. Rules change. Your circumstances may change. Having to use a car seat for an infant is a little different than when your child is 5 years old. Although we can’t cover all Arizona driving laws here, we can give you a reminder of some that you may have forgotten and any recent changes.

Using a Cell Phone While Driving

As of January 1, 2021 it is illegal in Arizona to talk or text on a mobile device while driving unless it is in hands-free mode. While the law further prohibits the use of holding your phone, reading, writing, or sending a message, scrolling through social media, watching or recording videos, or any other circumstance that would cause a distraction from driving. The law does state that it is permissible to engage or disengage your GPS application, start or end a call, and to request help in an emergency. Violators are subject to a $75 to $149 fine on the first offense and $150 to $250 fine on subsequent offenses.

Seat Belt Regulations

Arizona requires all passengers in the front seat to wear a seat belt. Children under 16 must be properly restrained, whether in the front or back seat. The seat belt laws in Arizona are considered a secondary offense. A police officer cannot stop you for not wearing a seat belt. However, once you are stopped for another traffic offense, you can be cited for not using the seat belt.

Child Safety Seats

In Arizona, children under the age of 8 years old and under 4 ft. 9 in. need to be properly restrained in a car seat appropriate for their age, weight, and height. The child restraint system must be correctly installed. Arizona participates in the “Children Are Priceless Passengers” program. CAPP offers classes on car seat use and free child safety seat checks throughout the state.

Window Tinting

The window-tinting laws in Arizona are complex. On the rear window and passenger windows, any darkness of tint can be used. On the front-door windows, the tint must allow more than 33 percent of light in. Non-reflective tint can be used on the windshield, but it must be above the AS-1 line, which is determined by the manufacturer. None of the tint can be more than 35 percent reflective. Amber and red colors are prohibited by state law.

Pets in the Car

A domestic animal, such as a dog, cat or other pet, cannot be left unattended and confined in a vehicle if “physical injury to or death of the animal is likely to result.” You could be cited for leaving your dog in a hot car. The law also allows “Good Samaritans,” a peace officer or animal control agent to use reasonable force to enter your vehicle to remove a confined animal.

If you drive with your pet in the car, you should make sure your buddy is confined to the back seat. If an airbag were to deploy, it would be very hazardous to your dog. If your front passenger airbag can be deactivated, your pet might be safe to ride there if it wears a pet seat belt. You don’t want your pet unrestrained in the car.

Move-Over Law

Arizona requires drivers to move over one lane for:

  • Emergency responders
  • Law enforcement
  • Road and highway workers
  • Stranded drivers
  • Roadside assistance

If it is unsafe to change lanes, then you need to slow down for any vehicle on the side of the road and flashing its lights. It is a moving violation if you don’t follow this law, which applies to all public roads, highways, parkways, local roads, and surface streets.

Pay Attention to Local Ordinances

Some communities are implementing variable speed limits within their borders. Make sure to watch the signs. In school zones, there is no leeway on the speed limit. Do not attempt to go even one mile over. In Tempe, you cannot smoke in a vehicle if there is a child under the age of 18 in the car. Watch for reversible lanes in Phoenix. On some main roads, the center lane can be used for southbound traffic during morning and northbound traffic during evening rush hours.

Besides keeping the law, you can stay safe by maintaining your vehicle. When you need service on your car, book an appointment with Sun Devil Auto to keep your vehicle running safely, efficiently and within Arizona regulations.