PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Shortly after noon on Thursday, the Arizona House of Representatives passed HB 2318, which bans texting and driving in Arizona. It passed 44 to 16.

[SEE: AZ bill to ban texting and driving; lawyer says it's desperately needed]

Under this bill, talking on the phone, texting, and using the internet while the phone is in your hand is prohibited. Calling over Bluetooth and for emergencies would be permissible.

HB 2318 was written by Rep. Noell Campbell (R-1). It's similar to SB 1165 written by Sen. Kate Brophy McGee (R-28).

[WATCH: Arizona Legislature sends distracted driving bill to governor]

Marc Lamber, a personal injury attorney in Phoenix, says the ban is a long overdue.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult to fight," he said. "I think the way that it’s been drafted is, if you got it in your hand or if it’s on your body, it’s a violation.”

Another bill that prohibits distracted driving, SB 1141, passed on a final reading. However, that bill is headed back to the Senate with an amendment before it goes to Gov. Doug Ducey's desk.

[WATCH: Family members of distracted driving victims praise bill passage]

“You see people on the roadway sometimes, and you see that car swerving or not staying in its lane, and they’re shaving, or they’re putting on make up, or someone’s unwrapping a cheeseburger or a taco and eating it in their car," Lamber said.

SB 1141 goes beyond cellphone use on the road. An emotional debate took place on the House floor over that bill. Some Democrats argued that the bill would increase racial profiling. Proponents said broad legislation is needed to save lives.

“So I think the law is always trying to draw lines," Lamber said. "And you’re trying to figure out that point where you’re making the roads safer, but you’re not taking it too far.”

[RELATED: Arizona House to mull 3 bills aimed at cellphone use while driving]

It was a bittersweet moment for families of Arizonans killed by distracted drivers as lawmakers passed the ban.

"Now you know, wherever you're driving, you have to have your phone down because it killed my dad and it can kill again. All these families, it's killing people and this is why we need this law," said Jonathan Hall, whose father was killed by a distracted driver.

The family of Salt River Police Officer Clayton Townsend watched the vote come in from the House gallery. Townsend's death in January helped fuel the final push to pass a ban on cell phone use at the wheel.

"Tears. I know there are others fighting for this a lot longer than I have. And I know how much it means to them and just to know that this part of the journey is behind us," said Pete Johnson, Townsend's father-in-law.

[RELATED: Remembering fallen Salt River Police Office Clayton Townsend]

HB 2318 is now waiting for Ducey's signature. He's expressed willingness to sign a bill banning texting and driving, though it's unclear when he will take action.

If the governor signs HB 2318 into law, it would go into effect on  Jan. 1, 2021. A first violation would result in ticket of between $75 and $150. 

"It's a huge feeling of relief for me, but also a big joy because we've done something; we've made a difference. And something good can come from something so horrible in our family," said Johnson.


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.



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(15) comments


Democrats argued that the bill would increase racial profiling. How could texting, talking on the phone etc have anything to do with racial profiling? True, the new law will be just like other laws, most people will just ignore it. The only way to put a stop to it, or at least slow it down, is make it costly if you do break the new law. First offense, a 500.00 fine, second offense, 1,000 fine and loss of license for 6 months, and third offense if you have not learned your lesson, a 5,000 fine and loss of license permanently. No plea bargaining, or attending defensive driving classes.


Sadly this law will be ignored just like every single other law on the books. People still speed, drink and drive etc. What needs to happen is the re-training of the driving population. The public does not take driving seriously until a tragedy occurs. Go Euro-style with drivers education.


This will not save one life in fact death rates on our roadways have been increasing for the last 70 years and cell phones have only been around for the past 20 and the smart phone for about 10 years.


Ducey probably won't sign the cellphone bill. He didn't last time.. Don't know why...
now "Distracted driving" bill is a joke. Define distracted driving? can picking your nose be distracted driving? this seems like a way around probable cause for a traffic stop. someone picks there nose. takes a sip out of a coke. etc. could possibly be distracted driving. we need to DEFINE the actions that constitute distracted driving.


I read this while driving.


"...Democrats arguing that the bills would increase racial profiling..." This is the mentality of Democrats these days and illustrates EXACTLY why you should vote against Democrats. They place everything before public safety when it should be just the opposite.


Why is this not effective on Jan 2020 or before? What are the specifics of this bill? Last I heard was no citation unless another violations was cited... if so, a waste of time. Why not proactive enforcement instead of reactive?


From the actual bill, keep in mind it isn't a primary offense, so you have to be cited for something else first:

11. States that a person in violation of operating a motor vehicle while using a portable wireless
communication device as outlined after January 1, 2021, subject to a civil penalty as follows:
a) between $75 and $149 for a first violation; and
b) between $150 and $250 for a second or subsequent violation.

Big Rich

There is already a law about distracted driving....this is a huge Nothing Burger.....and a waste of time & money.


Ms Rich - There is currently no statewide distracted driving law in Arizona. If you know an ARS Title 28 statute that you believe indicates something to the contrary I'd love to see it.


The laws exist for distracted driving but never enforced. The difference is the anti technology people think a special law is needed for cell phones. The laws include combing hair, putting on makeup and reading newspapers and books,


About time!


‘Racial profiling’? How’s that? Idiots who text and drive come in all colors.


I still find it extremely disgusting that this bill was not passed until a cop was killed by texting driver. How many people had to be buried without anyone considering such a bill before? And how about other forms of distracted driving? Such as reading a book or newspaper, combing your hair, putting on makeup, etc. Why do those not count? Oh yes, no cop has been killed by someone doing that. And you democrat slugs who claim racial profiling, just exactly how would that happen? Just wait, there will be hundreds of whites arrested for the violation but just ONE black or Hispanic be stopped and look out.


It would've been nice if Catherine had told us more about what penalties infractions would incur under each bill. I guess it's easier to reword a press release.

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