Unique Arizona Laws to Know About

You probably think you already know a thing or two about Arizona. It’s really hot, really dry, and full of cacti, right? Well that’s true, but there are some interesting facts about living in Arizona that might surprise you. Did you know you can’t legally touch one of those saguaros? Or that a horse is considered a car?

Check out some of the most unique Arizona laws to know about before moving to Arizona.

Unique Arizona Laws

Prop 207:

In November of 2020, the state of Arizona voted to legalize the use and sales of recreational marijuana. Prior to this, Arizona permitted possession of a limited amount of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and required a license issued by physician to purchase.

Now, anyone over 21 with a valid Arizona ID can walk into a dispensary and buy whatever they want. Topics as controversial as this certainly aren’t for family Christmas party talk, but they are important to talk about if you are considering moving to a state where cannabis is legal.

As with any substance that impairs the brain in any capacity, there are laws in place about where and how marijuana can be used. It is not legal to drive while under the influence of marijuana, or smoke in public. With that being said, in states where marijuana is legal, you can and will see and smell it where you shouldn’t. Not everyone follows the law. 

All in all, not the most dangerous of laws that are broken every day. But if you are worried about your children being exposed to the smell, culture, paraphernalia, or public advertisement of marijuana, this is something to consider before deciding to move to Arizona.

Arizona landscape, Unique Arizona Laws

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Cigarette Tax:

Perhaps to encourage healthier choices, perhaps to keep the air cleaner, or perhaps just so the state can benefit from your smoking habit, Arizona has implemented high taxes on cigarette purchases. Currently, this tax is two dollars per pack of cigarettes. That’s before sales tax, so your total will go up from there. While other states have higher cigarette tax, such as the nearly five dollar tax on a pack in the District of Columbia, it still adds up if you are an avid smoker. How’s that for motivation to finally quit.


Casinos and gambling in Arizona:

You may have heard there are plenty of casinos in Arizona, and that’s true, because there are a great deal of reservations in the state. In fact, Arizona has more tribal land than any other state. While you can gamble outside of reservations, there are limitations, and you won’t find the casino experience anywhere else. The federal government has very limited control over sovereign Indian nations, so the rules on this land are a bit different.

Arizona casino table, Unique Arizona Laws

Strict regulations regarding drunk driving:

No one should drink and drive, wherever they live. But if you live in Arizona, the definition of driving impaired is even stricter than in most states. For those who have found themselves being charged with drinking and driving, it’s going to be extremely costly.

Depending on the infraction, some cases will even extend into criminal punishment, including misdemeanors and even felonies. Being convicted of a felony, regardless of the crime; renders the felon unable to vote, travel abroad, benefit from any form of public funding, and much more. It’s absolutely not worth it. Grab an Uber, get home safe, and protect not only yourself but others.


Driving records:

While the laws may be strict when it comes to drinking and driving, speeding and other ticket offenses are a different story. Arizona allows drivers the opportunity to wipe their driving record clean every 12 months by attending a defensive driving course.

In most states this opportunity is only offered every two or three years, so being able to take care of those three speeding tickets you got takes a much longer time. But this isn’t to say you should drive around Arizona like Andretti because there won’t be any consequences…remember, reckless driving is still a thing.

Phoenix AZ highway, Unique Arizona Laws

Livestock motorists:

While it’s terribly sad to hit, or run over and kill an animal, it isn’t illegal. Unless that animal is a horse, being ridden by a person. The livestock laws in Arizona give horseback riders full motorist rights when they are in or crossing streets.

This means everything you would do if this person was in a car or on a motorcycle will apply. This law is also in place to protect the humans catching a ride from their equine friends. Still, this isn’t something you would see every day in New York City.


Animal Rights:

We should all take care of our pets and respect the animals we see in the wild. But unfortunately, too many people don’t, so legal measures have to be taken to protect these animals who cannot protect themselves. If you have pets of any kind that live outside, such as dogs, chickens, or hoof stock, you must follow certain criteria.

If at any point in the day the temperature will reach or surpass 90 degrees, you are required to provide shade and ample water to your animals. Considering that in 2020, Phoenix experienced 175 days that reached 95 degrees, it’s likely these shelter structures should be accessible to your animals all year round. Temperatures 89 and below aren’t much cooler.


Cactus protection:

The Sonoran Desert is the only place in the world that’s home to Arizona’s iconic Saguaro Cactus. (If you see them elsewhere, they were brought there.) The towering giants can be seen nearly everywhere in the state, standing tall and sentient. These incredible feats of nature can live up to two hundred years, and survive two years without water, even under the unrelenting desert sun.

But despite their longevity, these desert dwellers have been no match for civilization, and have found themselves on the Endangered Species List. That means if you find them to be in your way for any particular reason, such as in your yard; there isn’t much you can do about it. If you think nobody will notice, know that it could cost you 25.

Even taking a small piece from a large cactus, a propagation practice considered safe to succulents; isn’t allowed in Arizona.

Saquaro cacti in Arizona, Unique Arizona Laws

Arizona is an open-carry state:

Considering that Arizona is in the middle of the wild, wild west, it may come as no surprise that law abiding gun owners can carry their guns for all the world to see. Theories about concealing weapons or carrying them openly are widespread and conflicting. Some claim openly carried weapons mitigate crime by showing prospective criminals they will put up a fight. Others say advertising your weapon makes you a target.

Wherever the truth lies, know you will probably see some handguns in Arizona. Openly carried weapons must be holstered, and must fit a strict guideline entailing which weapons can be carried and which are not intended for civilian use. If guns make you feel uncomfortable, know that to qualify for this license at all, gun owners must go through rigorous background checks.

Those who have gotten far enough in this process to reach the point of having a gun on their hip in public are squeaky clean, law abiding citizens with no criminal record.


Legal use of lethal force:

The lines drawn on this topic are a bit muddied, but the bottom line is, it is legal in Arizona to use lethal force to defend yourself, family, or those who appear unable to defend themselves. Where it becomes confusing is that you are only permitted to harm another to the point of taking their life if you are experiencing a threat of immediate danger.

Even at that, the kind of danger can be convoluted. You cannot stab someone because you got in an argument and they threatened to beat you up. If that person was actually beating you up. It would be a different story.

Arizona residents are also permitted to defend themselves from home invasion, including using a firearm; if the perpetrator is within their home and posing imminent danger. You cannot shoot a person for lurking in your yard and looking suspicious. Calling the police is a much better idea, for both of you.


Same-sex marriage:

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Arizona for awhile now. While not one of the very first states to hop aboard the “Love is Love” train, they weren’t far behind. For many, this was a deciding factor in their move to Arizona, where they could get married or their marriage would be legally recognized.

Human rights aside, most states are legalizing gay marriages for the rights and benefits that were currently unavailable to those who could not marry. In states where these marriages are recognized, same-sex couples can be on their spouses insurance, have access to family only rights, and file for taxes jointly. 

Thinking of moving to Arizona?

Are you considering moving to Arizona, or the Phoenix Metro Area? Reach out to me at Compton Realty, I would love to help you find your desert dream home in beautiful Arizona.