City Council Strengthens Distracted Driving Ordinance

The Mayor and Tucson City Council last night approved an ordinance (Item 9 in Agenda materials) that makes texting and driving and the use of handheld electronic devices by motorists a primary offense in city limits. The vote also lowers fines currently imposed for violations when the new rules go into effect on Feb. 1.

Tucson Police Department (TPD) officers no longer will have to see or suspect another violation to be able to stop drivers and cite them for using an electronic device, which currently is a secondary offense. For the first month, officers will issue warnings in order to educate drivers about the change in the law, and they will begin issuing tickets in March. Under the revision to the current ordinance, the civil violation fines will be reduced from $250 to $50 for a first-time offense. A second violation will carry a $100 fine, and future fines will be $200. If involved in an accident, the fine will be $250 (even the first time).