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Oro Valley ban on using handheld devices while driving taking effect

Don't hold the phone: Oro Valley's long had a reputation as a place where it's easy to get a speeding ticket for doing just a couple MPH over the limit. Now, the town is banning the use of all handheld devices while behind the wheel — even if you're stopped at a light.

OV's "hands-free" ordinance takes effect Friday, officials said.

The law covers gaming and GPS devices, in addition to mobile phones.

It prohibits drivers from holding an electronic device while operating a motor vehicle on a public road, regardless of whether they are in motion or halted at a stoplight or stop sign. Calls to 911 or speaking to a hospital or physician are exempt from the ban.

Drivers can use Bluetooth devices, cell phone mounts and speaker functions while driving, and using a single finger to operate a device is acceptable as long as it is not in the driver's hand, officials said.

Starting Monday, OV police will begin an educational campaign, making high-profile stops of violators and issuing warnings about the new law. During the campaign, drivers will be given a pamphlet about the law, officials said.

Tucson had banned texting while driving since 2012, but it is still legal to use a handheld cell phone, or text while stopped at a light in the city. Similarly, Pima County banned texting while driving last year.

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Oro Valley Town Code

Article 10, Section 14

ARTICLE 10-14 DISTRACTED DRIVING

PROHIBITED USE OF HANDHELD MOBILE TELEPHONE OR PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE

PROHIBITED CONDUCT

NO PERSON SHALL, EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED IN THIS ORDINANCE, USE A MOBILE TELEPHONE OR PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE UPON A STREET OR HIGHWAY, UNLESS THAT DEVICE IS SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED OR CONFIGURED TO ALLOW HANDS-FREE LISTENING AND TALKING AND USED IN THAT MANNER WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE.

DEFINITIONS

"HANDS-FREE USE" MEANS THE USE OF A MOBILE TELEPHONE OR PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE WITHOUT THE USE OF EITHER HAND BY EMPLOYING AN INTERNAL FEATURE OF, OR AN ATTACHMENT TO, THE DEVICE.

"OPERATING" MEANS BEING IN ACTUAL PHYSICA L CONTROL OF A MOTOR VEHICLE ON A HIGHWAY OR STREET AND INCLUDED BEING TEMPORARILY STOPPED BECAUSE OF TRAFFIC, A TRAFFIC LIGHT OR STOP SIGN OR OTHERWISE, BUT EXCLUDES OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE WHEN THE VEHICLE HAS PULLED OVER TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD OR OFF AN AN ACTIVE ROADWAY AND HAS STOPPED AT A LOCATION IN WHICH IT CAN SAFELY REMAIN STATIONARY.

"HANDHELD MOBILE TELEPHONE" AND "PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE" MEANS A WIRELESS COMMUNICATION DEVICE THAT IS DESIGNED TO ENGAGE IN CALLS, RECEIVE AND TRANSMIT TEXT, IMAGE MESSAGES, AND DATA AND REQUIRES BEING HELD IN ONE HAND.

EXEMPTIONS

THIS SECTION SHALL NOT APPLY TO:

(1) THE USE OF A MOBILE TELEPHONE OR PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF COMMUNICATING WITH ANY OF THE FOLLOWING REGARDING AN IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY SITUATION:

AN EMERGENCY RESPONSE OPERATOR;

AN AMBULANCE COMPANY;

FIRE DISTRICT AND RESCUE SERVICE PERSONNEL;

LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL;

A HOSPITAL; OR

A PHYSICIAN'S OFFICE OR HEALTH CLINIC.

(2) THE ACTIVATION OR DEACTIVATION OF HANDS-FREE USE, AS LONG AS THE MOBILE TELEPHONE OR PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE IS SECURELY CONFIGURED AND ATTACHED TO THE VEHICLE OR INTEGRATED INTO THE VEHICLE.

FIRST RESPONDER EXCEPTION:

THIS SECTION DOES NOT APPLY TO AN EMERGENCY SERVICE PROFESSIONA L USING A MOBILE TELEPHONE OR PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE WHILE OPERATING AN EMERGENCY VEHICLE IN THE COURSE AND SCOPE OF HIS OR HER DUTIES.

PENALTY

A VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 10-14 IS A CIVIL TRAFFIC VIOLATION.

A PERSON WHO VIOLATES ARTICLE 10-14 AND IS NOT INVOLVED IN A MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION IS SUBJECT TO A CIVIL PENALTY OF $50 FOR THE FIRST VIOLATION, $100 FOR THE SECOND VIOLATION AND $200 FOR THE THIRD VIOLATION.

A PERSON WHO VIOLATES TOWN CODE 10-14 AND IS INVOLVED IN A MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION IS SUBJECT TO A CIVIL PENALTY OF A MINIMUM AMOUNT OF $250.