Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Greater Phoenix Chapter

Old Home Home Contact Us Upcoming
Church State Issues Report Church State Violations Join
Email List
Email List
Membership Donations Request
Facebook Meetup Links Send Letter to Editor


Church State Issues

Arizona DPS cracking down on distracted drivers

Apr 26, 2014

Arizona Republic

DPS has new program that illegally stops people without "probable cause"???

This sounds like a new line of BS from the police tyrants in the DPS which gives them a lame excuse to stop people without the required "probable cause" or "reasonable suspicion" and run their names thru the computer looking for arrest warrants, and of course illegally searching them for drugs and guns.

For all my life Arizona's speed limit has been "reasonable and prudent", which means that when conditions warrant it, you have to drive a "reasonable and prudent" speed, even if the speed limit is higher.

An example is during perfect weather you can cruise down the freeway at 65 mph which is the speed limit. But during a severe rain storm, the safe and reasonable and prudent speed may only be 50 mph.

The folks at the DPS have twisted that law sideways and came up with a number of activities in which the "reasonable and prudent" speed limit according to THEM is a big 0 or ZERO mph.

Some of these activities mentioned in previous articles are talking on a cell phone or text messaging.

The DPS says if you are doing any of these activities, it gives them "probable cause" to stop you and write you a ticket. And of course when they do that they will run your name thru the computer looking for arrest warrants, and try to intimidate you into letting them search your car for illegal drugs and guns.

I suspect the cops will also re-define a number of other activities such as scratching your butt, blowing your nose, blinking, breathing and farting as activities that the only reasonable and prudent speed limit is zero mph and use that as a bogus reason to illegal stop and shake down people.

The cops are always making lame excuses to illegally stop people. I remember several times the cops have said they were going to stop "good drivers" and give them free movie tickets for driving good.

Of course the "good drivers" never get the free movies tickets until the cops ran then names thru the computer looking for arrest warrants and tried to intimidate the people into letting the cops search their cars for drugs and guns.

Arizona DPS cracking down on distracted drivers

Megan Cassidy, The Republic | 9:50 a.m. MST April 26, 2014

Three damaged vehicles littered the shoulder of eastbound Interstate 10 one afternoon this week. The driver of the last car had rear-ended the one in front, setting off a minor domino collision.

The fender-bender likely wasn't a novel sight for the Phoenix rush-hour drivers zipping by, but curiosity still managed to get the better of them.

And Highway Patrol officers, concerned about the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers, were closely watching the reactions of the passing motorists.

"This driver, that driver, this driver, that driver, they're all looking over here to this crash instead of just focusing to the front," Highway Patrol Officer Jesus Gastelum pointed out as he tended to a Toyota Yaris with a crumpled rear.

The Department of Public Safety is putting renewed focus on distracted driving and has begun cracking down on offenders. According to DPS, distracted driving caused about 11 percent of all crashes in Arizona — nearly 1,200 in a four-month review period.

Because driving while rubbernecking, texting or using a cellphone is not in itself illegal in Arizona, DPS has started enforcing a new application of an existing law.

Statute ARS 28-701A requires that drivers maintain a speed that is no greater than what is "reasonable and prudent" ­under the circumstances.

"The essence of the idea … is that it is not reasonable to drive any speed without looking," DPS Officer and spokesman Carrick Cook said.

Bills that would ban texting while driving in Arizona have repeatedly failed to become law, but Cook said the department believes it can combat all forms of distracted driving under the current statute.

Arizona is one of seven states without an all-driver texting ban, according to the Governors Highway Association. There is a federal law that prohibits truck and bus drivers texting and driving.

The new application of the law is wider-reaching than a strict texting ban, which DPS officials say is only one element of the problem.

Outside diversions, such as roadside wrecks or traffic stops, accounted for 22 percent of distracted-driver accidents between late November and April, more than any other singular factor, ­according to the DPS study.

DPS Capt. Jeff King said minor crashes often become a distraction for passing drivers and can trigger much more serious accidents.

Eating or drinking factored into 11 percent of the accidents, cellphone use in 9 percent and texting in 2 percent.

"When you look at the data, there are so many other distractions," King said.

Cook said DPS officials are well aware that the new interpretation of 28-701A will likely be challenged in court, which is why the agency pre-emptively collected the data for reinforcement. According to the four-month study of crashes that were related to distraction, 380 resulted in injuries and 10 led to fatalities.

Phoenix has a city code against texting while driving, and police issue about 30 citations for it per year, according to spokesman Steve Martos.

"I think anything that we can do to prevent people from being distracted while driving is an effective way to reduce collisions," he said.

Cook says statistics show a clear connection between accidents and distracted driving.

"We have a statistical foundation, based off of our own studies, that has proven the significance of distracted driving," he said. "We're doing this very methodically."

Cook said he is unaware of any other states using a similar law in the same way.

DPS officers are also heavily enforcing laws that are broken as a result of distracted driving, such as excessive speeding or swerving.

Officers made about 8,600 distracted-driving stops during the four-month period of the study, of which about one-fourth were under 28-701A and three-fourths for another violation. About half of these stops resulted in a citation, 40 percent received a warning, and 10 percent received other enforcement action.

Arizona defense attorney Joseph St. Louis said applying new appli­cations to an existing law could be problematic.

"If you have a law that's designed to punish one thing and you try to make it cover what it's not meant to cover, people don't know what they can and can't do legally," he said. "I think that's where the challenges are going to go."

DPS officials hope an educational campaign will help with public buy-in. They are training officers and having them hand out pamphlets during traffic stops and talk about the dangers of driving while distracted. During a five-day educational period this month, officers made 583 distracted-driving stops, issuing warnings for 53 percent, citations for 38 percent and other enforcement action for 9 percent.

As the rush-hour traffic thinned Monday evening, Gastelum spotted a woman driving with a cracked windshield who was talking on her phone. He pulled her over for the windshield and used the opportunity to talk over the distracted-driving reading material. She received a warning.

"I think I'm probably not going to talk on my phone again, because my heart's going a million miles a minute after getting pulled over," said the driver, Katie Gilliam. "And it's probably not real safe for my kids for me to be talking on my phone and be distracted while I'm trying to drive."

DPS Director Bobby Halliday said well-informed people are typically more easily convinced of a traffic law's value.

For those who aren't convinced?

"We'll see them down the road somewhere," he said.


28-701. Reasonable and prudent speed; prima facie evidence; exceptions

A. A person shall not drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances, conditions and actual and potential hazards then existing. A person shall control the speed of a vehicle as necessary to avoid colliding with any object, person, vehicle or other conveyance on, entering or adjacent to the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to exercise reasonable care for the protection of others.

B. Except as provided in subsections C and D of this section or except if a special hazard requires a lesser speed, any speed in excess of the following speeds is prima facie evidence that the speed is too great and therefore unreasonable:

1. Fifteen miles per hour approaching a school crossing.

2. Twenty-five miles per hour in a business or residential district.

3. Sixty-five miles per hour in other locations.

C. The speed limits prescribed in this section may be altered as authorized in sections 28-702 and 28-703.

D. The maximum speed provided in this section is reduced to the speed that is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and with regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing, including the following conditions:

1. Approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad crossing.

2. Approaching and going around a curve.

3. Approaching a hillcrest.

4. Traveling on a narrow or winding roadway.

5. A special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.

E. A person shall not drive a motor vehicle at a speed that is less than the speed that is reasonable and prudent under existing conditions unless the speed that is reasonable and prudent exceeds the maximum safe operating speed of the lawfully operated implement of husbandry.