Your daily commute may be more entertaining than you might like—people applying makeup or eating breakfast with one hand on the wheel, or worse, doing something even more elaborate like painting their nails, fumbling with a GPS, or singing their hearts out and dancing like nobody’s watching, all while the vehicle is in motion. But let’s face it, few people are perfect drivers who don’t get distracted from time to time and take attention away from the road. That said, we thought you might appreciate knowing what is and isn’t allowed behind the wheel in the Great State of Arizona.
You can’t drive without a seatbelt.
Seatbelts save lives, but only if you wear them. That’s why Arizona, and just about every other state, has laws requiring drivers to wear their seatbelts.
You can drive with headphones on.
Bummed because your car stereo is out? Don’t fret, because you can still jam with your headphones on and be well within the limits of the law. Of course, you might want to only use one of two ear buds or keep the volume low, so you can still hear if an ambulance is approaching or another driver is honking.
You can’t text while driving.
Most states have cracked down hard on texting and driving. Some have fines exceeding $1,000 if you get caught with a phone in your hand while driving. Texting while driving keeps your attention exactly where it shouldn’t be, so going hands-free with talk-to-text features if you need to get a message out right away is the way to go. Certain Arizona counties and cities have already passed laws against texting and driving, and Tucson is among them.
You can drive with your pet roaming freely in the vehicle.
If you’re bringing Fido along for a trip to the vet or a hike in the foothills, you might wonder what’s the safest way to travel with your four-legged friend—or at the very least, what won’t get you pulled over. You can have your pet roaming freely, though it isn’t advisable to have a dog or cat in your lap while driving, since this could seriously slow down your reaction time. Ideally, your pet should be in the backseat with a harness or crate to keep him/her secure, but the size and temperament of your pet will make a big difference. Just remember, anything you choose for transporting your pet won’t necessarily be breaking the law.
You can’t drive with open libations in the car.
Living in Arizona, you’ve probably heard how costly a DUI can be, because DUI charges here are some of the most heavily enforced in the nation. But even if you are not intoxicated, you could get in trouble if you have an open container of alcohol in the car. That doesn’t just mean an open glass in the cup holder—that could also be a bottle of liquor with the seal broken and the lid on or an unfinished bottle of wine that has not been adequately recorked.
As a rule, if it feels unsafe or you aren’t sure if it’s allowed, don’t do it behind the wheel. Of course, as we have seen here, sometimes the law doesn’t always explicitly forbid potentially distracting or dangerous behaviors, so you should always trust your best judgment, even when you don’t know what the law says.