Distracted Driving Is Impaired Driving, and It Can Cost You

silver car with a damaged hood and bumper - distracted driving

Distracted Driving Is Impaired Driving, and It Can Cost You

Driving under the influence is not the only type of impaired driving. While operating a vehicle with drugs or alcohol in your system can land you with DUI charges, heightened emotions can also impair your ability to drive. Distracted driving can lead to accidents and even criminal charges if someone gets hurt. Here’s what you need to know about Arizona’s distracted driving laws and the punishments for impaired driving.

What Is Impaired or Distracted Driving?

Driving requires concentration and skill, two things that can become difficult when you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But more things can impact your ability to drive than being drunk or high. Being distracted, overwhelmed, or over tired can also impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. 

Emotions, especially strong ones, can also be distracting, and change the way you react when you are driving. Excessive crying can blur your vision. And anger and rage can fuel poor decisions like tailgating and aggressive driving. 

Impaired driving means:

  • Slower reaction times
  • Failure to notice dangers
  • Failure to follow road signs or traffic signals 
  • Making poor decisions

What Are the Consequences for Impaired Driving? 

The consequences of driving while impaired vary greatly depending on the situation. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, regardless of whether you follow all the traffic laws, can land you a DUI in the state of Arizona. Using a device like a smartphone while driving can also land you with fees, fines, or even jail time. 

But unlike being drunk, high, or using your phone, there are no specific laws against driving while you are overwhelmed, emotional, or tired. However, the devastating effects of an accident could see you facing some serious charges.


Driving under the influence is a criminal offense in Arizona. Even if there has been no accident, or if you are only asleep in the car—if the keys are in the ignition, you could face criminal repercussions. The consequences for a DUI can range from 10 days to 2 years in jail, depending on the number of past offenses. Along with time spent in jail, you could face high fees and fines, and even the loss of your license. You’ll also need to have a breathalyzer installed in your vehicle.

Manslaughter / Negligent Homicide

Vehicular accidents that result in death can be charged as either manslaughter or negligent homicide. These charges have a wide range of consequences, from prison time to reparations. 

To be charged with one of these crimes, you must have been acting recklessly or negligently. Heightened emotions like anger and sadness can make you react in a way that you normally would not. And using a device like a phone, smartwatch, or tablet is another type of recklessness that can leave you distracted. 

If You’re Facing Criminal Charges, You Need a Certified Criminal Defense Attorney

Whether it’s a misdemeanor or a DUI, having a criminal record can change your life and follow you for years to come. Hiring a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the Arizona justice system increases your chances of a better outcome than you could get on your own. 

Todd Coolidge has over 25 years of experience as an Arizona criminal defense attorney. He has handled countless felony and misdemeanor cases, with exceptional results. Contact us today for a consultation on your case.





Images used under creative commons – commercial use (10/13/23). Photo by Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash.