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New year brings hands-free driving law to Arizona

Violators will be fined $75 to $149. And repeat offenders face $150 to $250 fines. Authorities believe the new system will save lives.

PHOENIX — A new year often brings new laws. And 2021 is no exception. Accordingly, Phoenix police officers are taking time to highlight one far too many of us have been guilty of: Using our devices while driving. 

Phones in hand, fingers tapping away, eyes darting up and down. Drivers stopping at green lights, weaving, rapidly self-correcting or worse.

“We’ve got this visual aid back here," said Phoenix Police Sergeant Maggie Cox, referencing a totaled car. "When you look at it, just think about the lives that can be affected inside that vehicle.”

Starting January 1, 2021, drivers can only access and use their phones if they are in hands-free mode. There are two exceptions: “unless you are at a stoplight, or it's an emergency, and you make a 911 phone call, let’s keep our eyes on the road and our hands on the wheel," Sergeant Cox said. 

Violators will be fined $75 to $149. And repeat offenders face $150 to $250 fines. Authorities believe the new system will save lives.

“[It's] six times more dangerous to be a distracted driver than an impaired driving so just let that [sink] in for a minute," Cox said. 

Phoenix police also say there is no excuse to drive drunk on New Year’s Eve. 

“Choose your ride wisely, make plans, have a designated driver. Use a rideshare app. There are so many options," Cox said.

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