Distracted driving is all too common in Arizona. In 2019, the state’s Department of Transportation reported nearly 130,000 car accidents in the state, with distracted driving accounting for 25% of these accidents. To help combat these troubling statistics, Arizona lawmakers introduced a new Hands-Off Law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. It is illegal and dangerous to use a cell phone while driving in Arizona unless you are using hands free mode. While some cities have already had bans geared toward cell phone usage behind the wheel, this new law applies to the entire state.
While this new law has been in place for a few months now, drivers are still using their phones behind the wheel. If you were in a car accident because another person was using their cell phone, contact the personal injury attorneys at the Jensen Phelan Law Firm. We can launch an investigation into the accident and hold the liable party accountable for their actions.
The new Hands-Off Law bans cell phones or other electronic devices while driving unless you are using them in a hands-free mode. Police can now issue tickets and fines to drivers holding a phone in their hands or supporting it between your head and shoulders. However, drivers can begin GPS functions or use a device to contact emergency services.
Before the law began, officers pulled over drivers who were on their phones and gave them a pamphlet on the new rules. KTAR News reported that Arizona police issued warnings to more than 15,000 people before Jan. 1. Since then, drivers who violate this law may face fines between $75 and $149 for a first offense, with fines increasing to $150 to $250 for subsequent offenses. Furthermore, drivers who cause injury or death while also violating the Hands-Off Law may face a Class 1 misdemeanor. Most of all, it is dangerous.
While texting and driving is one of the most common forms of distracted driving, there are many others. The CDC splits distracted driving into three different categories: visual, manual, and cognitive, and texting falls under all three categories. It is highly hazardous and can cause significant damage to vehicles, drivers, and passengers.
You may have seen that the other driver was texting behind the wheel, but how can you prove it? Without evidence, these situations typically turn into both parties blaming the other. However, an attorney hired promptly may be able to prove the other driver was texting and driving through one or multiple of the following ways:
You must inform your attorney if you saw or suspected the other driver was texting. They can file a subpoena to obtain a copy of their cell phone records. Unless you have studied the law, you most likely do not know how to file a subpoena. Fortunately, the skilled attorneys at the Jensen Phelan Law Firm are accustomed to obtaining and filing one.
Witnesses may include pedestrians, passengers, or other drivers who saw the accident. At the accident scene, ensure any witnesses provide a statement to police officers and ask for their contact information. Your attorney will need it to ask them more questions. Additionally, your attorney may need them to testify in court to help prove the other driver was texting.
When trying to prove negligence in a car crash, an officer’s testimony can go a long way. Officers must complete a police report immediately upon arrival. The report should include details surrounding the accident, such as how it occurred. If you saw the other driver on their phone, you should tell the officer. They most likely will add it to the report, and they may even give the other party a citation. Your attorney may then use both the report and citation as evidence in court.
Depending on where the accident occurred, there may be security footage. For example, the crash may have happened in a parking lot. Your attorney can contact the landowner and ask to see the video footage. Dashcams and cell phone videos may also be helpful.
Your Arizona injury attorney may also decide to partner with an accident reconstruction specialist. A proper reconstruction may show that the driver was not paying attention to the road and acting negligently. These specialists are only helpful in some cases, so speak with an attorney about alternative ways to collect evidence first.
Arizona police and lawmakers are taking steps toward making our roads safer for everyone. Unfortunately, not everyone will follow the state’s new Hands-Off Law. If another driver was using their cell phone behind the wheel and caused your accident and injuries, contact the Jensen Phelan Law Firm.
Our Arizona car accident attorneys will launch a full investigation into the accident, interview witnesses, and represent you in court. We will always act with your best interests in mind and do everything possible to secure your financial compensation. To schedule a free consultation, call (928) 778-2660 or complete our contact form today.