Category Archives: carlaw

Where do traffic laws apply?

[ For where and how traffic laws in Arizona apply to bicyclists, see this article ]

The rules of the road (ROR) apply to motorists when an a road; but what about when driving in a parking lot? A private street? etc?

What are usually referred to as the ROR, like stopping, right-of-way, signals, etc, are contained in Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 28, Chapters 3. (Chapter 4 is impaired driving and is treated specifically below). Here is the key statute, along with the key definition,  emphasis added in italics:


§28-621. Applicability to vehicles on highways; exceptions

The provisions of this chapter [chapter 3, the ROR] and chapter 5 [penalties] of this title [title 28, Transportation] relating to the operation of vehicles refer exclusively to the operation of vehicles on highways except:
1. If a different place is specifically provided by statute.
2. Article 4 [hit-and-run] of this chapter and section 28-693 [reckless driving] apply on highways and elsewhere throughout this state.

§28-101, 57. “Street” or “highway” means the entire width between the boundary lines of every way if a part of the way is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.


So the key definition being highway (synonymous with street), and encompasses the entire width; including the roadway where vehicles normally driven, any shoulders, any parking, and even any sidewalks. It also would appear from the definition of highway that it’s immaterial whether or not the land is “private property”.

The exceptions are pretty obvious: hit-and-run, as well as reckless driving apply not just when driving on roads, but  “…and elsewhere”; which means everywhere and anywhere.

I don’t know of any laws that fall into the #1 exception, where the statute explicitly states where a law might apply elsewhere. ?

So a few potential non-public categories arise

  • Gated communities (private streets): The ROR don’t apply
  • Ungated but private streets: ??
  • Private campus (e.g. campus of a private university): ??
  • Public campus (e.g. ASU, NAU, etc): I seem to remember that they are their own public agency, analogous to a city, e.g. ASU police are NCIC 797… so yes ROR would apply.
  • Commercial or private Parking lots: ? parking lots in general all seem to encompass both some areas of travel, “roads” if you will, and vehicular storage. ??

Where the ROR don’t apply, run-of-the-mill traffic violations can’t be imposed: so disregarding signs, signals, speed limits, etc can be cited. The behavior would have to rise to the level of reckless driving in order to be charged.

None of that has anything to do with civil liability in the event of a collision; just that those laws can’t be cited against a driver.

When a crash occurs involving a motor vehicle, this all ties in to whether or not crashes (and therefore injuries and fatalities) get reported via trackable means, an Arizona Crash Report; or become non-traffic incidents and not counted towards officially reported traffic statistics (i.e. in Arizona by ADOT, or federally by NHTSA)

This happened one day in Tempe

northbound Hardy near University Drive. Could a bus driver safely overtake a cyclist here? Could a bus driver safely overtake 50 bicyclists here? Should a bus driver attempt to overtake 50 cyclists here?

Out for a Saturday morning group ride on Hardy Drive in Tempe July 2, 2016, cyclists had some sort of negative encounter with a motorist. Traffic would be light at 9AM on a Saturday morning in the dead of summer, except for the group of estimated 50 bicyclists (dispersed, not one group) and that motorist. The street here is very narrow, is traffic-calmed with ped islands and speed tables installed in a 2014/15 streetscape project, and has a speed limit of 30mph. Continue reading This happened one day in Tempe

AZ Legislators busy on photo-enforcement again

(Photo: Mark Henle/The Republic)

2017.
A new year, a new session. This year, like every year, some Arizona Republican legislators were busy a work on their top priority — to finally rid Arizona of photo red enforcement once and for all. News Story.

Last year, they banned it from the “State highway system” It had been in use in exactly two places, on ‘city’/’town’ streets, not freeways.  Many years ago it was expelled from freeways. Continue reading AZ Legislators busy on photo-enforcement again

No more covering your license plate

Illegal in AZ

After years of wrangling and haggling over the meaning of “A person shall maintain each license plate so it is clearly legible”. Any and all coverings, including wax according to one wag, are now banned. SB1073 has passed and was signed by the governor; the effective date is something like 90 days after the session closes; perhaps August(?).  Here’s the new section: Continue reading No more covering your license plate

Knowingly

The case of Trevor Clarke, an Ottawa Canada driver who was involved in a serious 2012 collision with a bicyclist while drunk, and then fled the scene raised quite a stir. According to news reports, the driver was convicted (by a judge, meaning this was for unstated reasons not a jury trial) in 2015 of “impaired driving causing bodily harm”, but was found not guilty of leaving the scene because the judge said. “I am left in a reasonable doubt about whether Mr. Clarke knew or was wilfully blind to having collided with a person, precisely because he was so drunk. He cannot, therefore, be convicted of this offence”. Continue reading Knowingly

Celebrity DUIs and other car criminals

There are tens of thousands of DUI arrests per year in AZ (39,746 in 2013 to be more precise). And that’s not counting the many of the over ten thousand hit-and-run drivers reported each year in AZ (11,402 in 2010 to be more precise), all of whom are criminals, thousands of them serious felons, few of whom are ever caught or charged. (hit-and-run from a collision with any injury is a felony, if the injury is serious or fatal the felony is likewise serious). Continue reading Celebrity DUIs and other car criminals

The REAL ID kerfluffle

In 2007 (or was it 2008; it was the 48th 2nd regular session) the state of Arizona inserted a new law into the transportation code that specifcally prevents ADOT (“the department”) from issuing DLs or IDs (i.e. motor vehicle drivers licenses, or in the case of non-drivers, state issued identification cards) that complied with federal REAL ID requirements. HB2677

The bill created statute 28-336. Continue reading The REAL ID kerfluffle