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Pima County Sheriff's Department weighs in on hands-free ordinance

Posted at 9:41 PM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-22 23:57:12-05

Since the hands-free ordinance went into effect in Pima County last year deputies say they have noticed a change in driver behavior. 

Drivers are not allowed to have their hands on their phones behind the wheel, even when stopped at a stop sign or traffic light.

MORE: Hands-free ordinance grace period is over in Pima County

Deputy Cody Gress says while there are drivers who still break the law, traffic deputies say many drivers seem more aware and are switching to hands-free equipment. Nowadays people have become used to having their phones on them at all times, Gress said.

"It's just become a part of our lives. So when you have a law that essentially takes that away from people, it's going to take them awhile to adjust," Gress said.

The hands-free ordinance went into effect in Pima County on June 1, 2017. There was a 60-day grace period when officers didn't hand out citations and instead educated people about the change.

Since last June PCSD has issued 153 citations and 486 warnings through January 5th. 

Whether or not the rule has decreased collisions, Gress says they will have to wait months or years to compare data.

On Tuesday the Tucson City Council will vote on changing the city's hands-free ordinance. If approved using your phone behind the wheel without hands-free equipment would be considered a primary offense. 

It is currently a secondary offense in Tucson, meaning officers have to see you breaking another law before pulling you over. 

LEARN MORE: Tucson City Council votes to make changes to hands-free ordinance.

If city leaders give the rule change final approval the city attorney says it will go into effect on February 1, 2018. After that there will be a 30-day period when officers won't issue citations but will instead educate drivers.

If passed the ordinance would also lower the fines associated with breaking the hands-free rule. It would be $50 for your first citation, and $100 for the second.