Arizona Driving is Cheap and Easy Unless You Break the Law
Relocating to a new state can present a host of challenges, including the dreaded trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you are planning a move to the Grand Canyon State, follow the tips below to help smooth the transition to Arizona roads.
1. Learn the acronyms
- MVD is the Motor Vehicle Department that issues your license and vehicle registration.
- ADOT is the Arizona Department of Transportation.
- DPS stands for Department of Public Safety, and includes a variety of state agencies such as the Highway Patrol.
- HOV lanes are reserved for high occupancy vehicles, which, by definition contain two or more occupants – or one rider on a motorcycle.
2. Be prepared to get your license
Getting a driver license in Arizona is fairly painless. It only costs $10 for boomers (age 50 & over) and you won’t have to renew until age 65; then every 5 years after that. Start your application online to save some time, then find an MVD location near you to complete the process in person.
Plan to go on a Wednesday or Thursday to avoid long lines. Bring two pieces of ID that show your date of birth. One must have your picture. If you have a clean license in another state, it’s unlikely you’ll need to take a test, but they will take your picture.
3. Know what you need to register your vehicle
To register your car in Arizona, you will need proof that you carry at least the minimum amount of insurance the state requires and a valid title of ownership.
Before you can register your car and get a tag (no front plates in AZ) you will need to have your car’s emissions tested. Cars manufactured in 2009 model or later are exempt. Emissions testing centers are run by the state and are usually located close to MVD offices (where you can register your vehicle). Emissions tests run $20 and results are good for two years.
4. Obey the traffic laws, or it could cost you big time
Everyone knows you shouldn’t speed, but if you get caught doing it in Arizona, you’ll shell out a pretty penny – $250 or more, on average. Tack $30 if you get caught running a stop light. And it’s easy to get caught. Speed is monitored by cameras at major intersections and unmanned radar vehicles. Speaking of stiff fines, solo drivers caught driving in the HOV lane during restricted hours can expect a fine of about $350.
5. Beware of the strictest DUI laws in the country
Arizona has earned a reputation for having the strictest driving under the influence (DUI) enforcement in the country. Like many states, the legal blood alcohol content limit is .08%. However, Arizona law enforcement officials can arrest anyone behind the wheel who, at the officer’s discretion, is impaired and shouldn’t be driving.
Arizona makes it easy and inexpensive to get started driving in the state, but heed the traffic laws closely or it could end up costing you a small fortune.