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New year brings new laws in Arizona

As of January 1, 2021, drivers can only access and use their phones if they are in hands-free mode.

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

"We’ve had an instance where we’ve lost a trooper that was killed, because a commercial driver was driving distracted,” Raul Garcia of the Department of Public Safety said. 

In the aftermath of Officer Clay Townsend’s death, who died conducting a traffic stop in January 2019, his family pushed for change. 

“I wouldn’t want any family to go through what our family has gone through,” Toni Townsend, Clay’s mom said. 

The state listened, passing a new texting and driving law. As of Jan. 1, 2021, drivers can only access and use their phones if they are in hands-free mode. Two exceptions: Drivers can use their hands to access their device at stoplights and call 911. 

“We really want to impress upon drivers common sense,” Garcia said.  “What do I need to do to keep myself and passengers safe and healthy.” 

Violators will be fined $75 to $149. And repeat offenders face $150 to $250 in fines. Right now troopers are warning drivers. 

“Troopers here at DPS have stopped and warned and educated more than 15,000 drivers,” Garcia said.

Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the DPS Local Retirement Board endeavors to ensure the accessibility of its meetings to all persons with disabilities. If you need an accommodation for the meeting, please contact Leanne Lunsford at (602) 223-2147. Requests should be made a This week our District Spotlight is on District 4, headquartered in Yuma, AZ!