Arkansas Distracted Driving Laws
- Handheld ban for drivers age 18-20 years old (Primary Law).
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary Law).
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Secondary Law).
- Ban on texting for all drivers (Primary Law).
Arkansas’s Texting While Driving Stand
As of October 1, 2011, Arkansas has new primary and secondary laws in place in regard to text messaging and cell phone use. Arkansas has banned all text messaging and cell phone use for drivers under the age of 18. Drivers 18-20 are banned from handheld phones but are allowed to use hands-free devices. The following are the guidelines regarding Arkansas’ distracted driving fines:
- Fines for all drivers text messaging can be as much as $100 in the state of Arkansas.
- Fines for drivers under 18 using any cell phone device goes up to $50 in the state of Arkansas.
- Fines for drivers 18-20 not using hands-free devices are up to $50 in the state of Arkansas.
- Bus driver is prohibited from using cell phones while driving in the state of Arkansas.
Some confusion as to what a handheld wireless phone or device is and what the hands-free telephones or devices are have been outlined to include:
- A Handheld wireless telephone is a cell phone or an electronic communication device that is used to make or receive phone calls or to have texted based conversations
- Handheld wireless telephones do not include a hands-free cell phone or an electronic communication device, citizens band radio, or a citizens band radio hybrid.
A hands-free wireless telephone or device is defined as:
- A cell phone or an electronic communication device that is used to make or receive phone calls or to have texted based conversations without the use of either hand.
- An attachment or additional device such as headphones, BlueTooth, speakerphone, etc.
- A hands-free cell phone or electronic communication device may be a permanent or temporary part of the cell phone or another wireless electronic communication device.
- A hands-free cell phone or electronic communication device may need the use of either hand to activate or deactivate.
What is primary enforcement?
Primary enforcement means this particular law is a higher priority to police and allows them to pull over those in violation of the ban without first witnessing another violation such as running a red light or speeding.
What is secondary enforcement?
Secondary enforcement means that an officer must first witness the driver committing a primary infraction in order to pull them over. At this time an officer may issue the driver an additional ticket should they also be texting or otherwise using a cell phone not in accordance with that state’s particular laws.
House Bill 1013 (2009)
HB 1013 went into effect as of October 1, 2009. This bill was nicknamed “Paul’s Law” in honor of a father of a young woman that was killed by a driver who was text messaging. HB 1013 bans all text messaging by drivers, and was approved by the Senate and the House and signed into law by the Governor as Act 181. This bill also includes accessing the Internet on a cellular device while driving. Those exempt from this law are firefighters, emergency medical technicians, law enforcement officers, or those driving an ambulance.
Senate Bill 28 (2009)
SB 28 bans all drivers under 18 years of age from any using cell phones including hands-free devices. This bill allows drivers 18-20 years old to use hands-free devices and was passed by the Senate and the House and approved by the Governor as Act 247
House Bill 1119 (2009)
This bill prohibits wireless telephone use by a driver under the age of 18, drivers 18-20 years old are restricted to the use of wireless telephones that include a hands-free component and are prohibited from any texting or typing while driving. HB 1119 was approved by the House, the Senate Transportation Committee, and the Senate before being approved by the Governor as Act 197.
Senate Bill 154
This bill prohibits the use of handheld cell phone use by drivers in school zones or near schools during those hours when children are present. This bill also called for a ban against using cell phones in work zones while workers are present. The bill was approved by the Senate Transportation, Technology and Legislative Affairs Committee on January 31, 2011, with full Senate approval occurring on February 2, 2011. Approval from the House followed shortly, on February 15, 201, and was sent to the Governor as Act 37, and signed and approved on February 19, 2011. The law took effect as of October 1, 2011.
House Bill 1049
This bill was intended to outlaw the use of handheld cell phones and GPS in a school zone when children are present. First-time violators would get a warning and each additional infraction was to receive a fine of $50. The bill was first rejected by the House on January 31, 201, and then reconsidered by the House and passed February 1, 2011. Eventually, the bill was recommended by the Senate Transportation Committee but rejected in full by the Senate. After being revived again on March 16, 2011, it died on April 27, 2011.
Additional bills brought before the House, Senate, Senate of Transportation Committee and the Governor include the following:
Senate Bill 309
This bill states that any teen between the ages of 14 and 16 with a learner’s permit is prohibited from using any cell phones or wireless communication while driving. An exception was written into the bill, allowing them to use a cellphone or wireless communication in the case of an emergency. An emergency is when the person is in fear for their own life, property, or safety. This definition also includes those who feel a criminal act is being committed, reporting a fire, a medical emergency, a traffic accident, a road hazard, or reckless driving.
Senate Bill 28
This bill prohibits operators under the age of 18 years from using any cell phones or electronic communication. Those drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 are permitted to use hands-free cell phones or electronic communication, but would still be prohibited from using handheld cell phones or electronic communication unless there is an emergency. This bill went into effect and being enforced on October 1, 2009.
House Bill 1042
HB 1042 prohibits school bus drivers, any drivers transporting students to or from school or school-sanctioned activities from using cell phones or electronic communication. The driver may use a cell phone if the vehicle is off the road and the emergency brake is on; however, this law has no exemptions for the use of hands-free devices. HB 1042 was signed by the Governor in February 2003.
Additional Information Regarding Distracted Driving
Several local areas have established their own cell phone and text messaging laws; however, some states require them to first get the statutory authority to do so.
The use of cell phones and other electronic communication devices is leading to a record number of auto accidents and deaths due to driver distractions. States are now more aware of the hazards and distractions of cell phones and electronic communication devices, effectively establishing laws to regulate the use of them while behind the wheel of an automobile.