Most drivers in Phoenix and surrounding areas in Arizona are very aware that the state takes a very harsh approach to drunk driving. Penalties for a first-ever offense can include the loss of driving privileges for up to 90 days and the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Other penalties may also result depending upon the circumstances.
The tough consequences for DUI convictions are reported to be in place because of the great danger that impaired driving poses to the public. However, this argument seems to be a bit inconsistent when comparing how the state approaches another known danger on the road–distracted driving. Over the last several years, more and more research has been conducted on this topic confirming how risky distracted driving actually is.
One study done by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute notes that anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road can significantly increase the chance of an accident occuring. This includes sending or reading text messages as well as looking up contact information, or dialing a phone number. It is important to note that even navigating a hands-free system can be a distraction as a driver’s eyes are still removed from the road and the driver’s mind is removed from full focus on the act of driving.
Despite the clear facts that distracted driving is a serious public danger, Arizona has no restriction on the handheld use of cell phones except for school bus drivers. This include dialing numbers, answering calls, texting and more. It would be understandable for anyone arrested on DUI charges to find this fact a serious inconsistency in how the state penalizes drunk drivers.