Phoenix at a Glance
Sales Tax
The retail sales tax in the state of Arizona is 6.6 percent. Maricopa County adds 0.7 percent in county taxes while Pinal County adds 1.1 percent. This brings the total of the two counties to 7.3 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively. Total sales tax varies from city to city and can range from 8.8 percent to 10.3 percent.

Seatbelt and Child Safety Laws
In Arizona, everyone must wear a seat belt while in the front seat of a passenger vehicle. The driver is responsible for requiring all passengers under age 16 to wear a seat belt, while front-seat passengers aged 16 and up may be cited with a seat belt violation if caught without one. The maximum fine given to someone violating this law is $10.

Arizona law also prohibits the transportation of a child less than 8 years of age that is not properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat that is made specifically for the child’s age and size. A citation and fine of at least $50 is given to the driver when they are caught transporting a child inappropriately. Fines may be increased to up to $150 after county and city fees are added. The fine may be waived if the vehicle is shown to be subsequently equipped with a proper child passenger restraint system.

Arizona does not prohibit or restrict passengers from riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck.

Use of Cell Phones
In Phoenix, people are prohibited from text messaging while driving. If caught, a fine of $100 will be issued. A fine of $250 is issued when texting is believed to be the cause of an accident.

Liquor Laws
The legal drinking age in Arizona is 21. If you are under 21 years old, you can be in bar if you are an on-duty employee of the business or are accompanied by a spouse, parent, or legal guardian that is of legal drinking age. Being under 21 and trying to purchase alcohol with a fake I.D. is a Class 3 misdemeanor and could result in jail time.

TRANSPORTATION

Highway Traffic
The two chief freeways that form the base of the Phoenix highway system are Interstate 10 and Interstate 17. These two highways meet for the first time northwest of downtown in an area known by residents as The Stack. An area east of The Stack, where I-10 enters an interchange for Route 51 and Loop 202 is called the Mini Stack. At this interchange, I-10 turns southward as it passes near Sky Harbor Airport before it reaches the second junction with I-17. Here, I-17 and I-10 merge, as I-10 turns eastward again. After this junction, the highway is additionally named on signs as US 60.

It is important to know the names residents use for highways to avoid confusion when finding your way around. While still in Arizona, Interstate 10 outside the Phoenix Metropolitan Area is referred to as the Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway. In Phoenix itself, Papago, Inner-Loop and Maricopa Freeway are all names for I-10.

As expected in any metropolitan area, traffic tends to become congested when residents start leaving work to return to their homes. For updates on the latest traffic conditions, visit www.azcentral.com/news/traffic/.

Toll Roads
The setup of toll roads has never come to pass into legislation in Phoenix; however there are multiple photo radar speed traps on the freeways that help generate the necessary funding that would have otherwise come from tolls.

Metro Lightrail
Metro Lightrail is the name for the 57-mile high-capacity transit system that runs throughout Phoenix and surrounding areas. In 2011, the Light Rail System saw a total of 13.2 million riders, and increase of 4.3 percent from 2010. Design, construction and operation of the system are run by a nonprofit, public corporation called Valley Metro Rail Incorporated. The brand name for this incorporation is simply METRO.

Bus Routes
Valley Metro also supports a public bus system that plays an integral role in keeping residents of Phoenix moving. The Bus and Circulator average weekday ridership in 2012 was about 43,268 at the 23 transit centers scattered around the valley to help make travel less confusing and more enjoyable. In 2012, the total ridership topped 14 million, an increase of nearly 6.9 percent in one year. A transit center is a facility where vehicles converge, enabling passengers to transfer among routes and services. They usually provide a shaded or enclosed waiting area, seats, drinking fountains and transit information for passengers. Valley Metro passes are also sold at many transit centers throughout the region. For more information on the schedules and system maps, visit www.valleymetro.org/schedules_and_maps/.

Airports
The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is one of the 10 busiest in the nation for passenger traffic, with a $79-million daily economic impact. On a typical day, more than 1,200 flights arrive and depart with more than 100,000 passengers. Sky Harbor has three runways and covers 3,000 acres of land. Phoenix Sky Harbor constantly is being upgraded and improved to better meet the needs of the community. The most recent development is the PHX Sky Train, which is a free automated train that will transport travelers between the METRO lightrail system and Terminal 4 in its first stage, which opened in the first quarter of 2013. Stage 2 will extend the train an additional 2.5 miles to the Rental Car Center.

   
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