For related history see: Department of Public Safety
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) was created in 1973 to provide an integrated and balanced state transportation system (Laws 1973, Chapter 146). Statutory authority for ADOT is found at A.R.S.§§28-101 et seq.
ADOT is responsible for planning, constructing and maintaining Arizona’s highway infrastructure and for collecting transportation revenues. ADOT has “exclusive control and jurisdiction over state highways, state routes, state owned airports and all state owned transportation systems or modes” and is overseen by a director and transportation board. ADOT has six divisions: motor vehicle, transportation planning, highways, aeronautics, public transit, and administrative services (A.R.S.§28-331 and §28-332).
The Motor Vehicle Division is responsible for title, registration, and license services to the general public. ADOT also adopts rules governing driving on all Arizona roads and highways. The Transportation Board is responsible for many oversight and management functions including developing and adopting a statewide transportation policy statement, a long-range transportation plan, and uniform planning practices (A.R.S.§28-304). The Highway Division is led by the State Engineer, a qualified civil engineer appointed by the Director of the Department (A.R.S §28-6921). The Aviation Division cooperates with “all state, local, and federal organizations to encourage and advance the safe and orderly development of aviation in this state” (A.R.S.§28-8242). This includes providing public information, collecting and distributing funds, making rules, and operating the Grand Canyon National Park Airport.
Revenues collected from fuel taxes, motor carrier fees, motor vehicle registration fees, vehicle license taxes and other miscellaneous fees are used to build and operate the state’s transportation systems.
Laws 1912, Chapter 68 replaced the Office of the Territorial Engineer with the Office of the State Engineer, which was the predecessor to ADOT. The State Engineer was appointed by the Governor to a two-year term, and was required to be a competent civil engineer. The State Engineer had oversight over the construction and maintenance of all state highways and bridges. Due to the necessity of providing for the “public peace, health and safety,” the Act contained an emergency clause, which made the law immediately effective and exempted it from the referendum requirements of the new State Constitution.
Laws 1927, 4th Special Session, Chapter 2 abolished the Office of the State Engineer and created the Arizona Highway Department and the Highway Code. The Highway Department was responsible for all matters regarding the state’s highways. The law also created the Arizona Highway Commission to oversee the Highway Department and appoint the State Highway Engineer. The newly created Department included a Division of Motor Vehicles, the State Highway Fund, and the “Rules of the Road.” The act was an emergency measure, similar to the 1912 law and became effective immediately.
Laws 1931, Chapter 104 created the Arizona Highway Patrol as a division of the Arizona Highway Department to patrol the state’s highways at all times, enforce highway laws, and investigate accidents.
Laws 1950, Chapter 45 created the State Aviation Authority, responsible for aviation laws, safety, and airports.
Laws 1962, Chapter 51 created the Arizona Department of Aeronautics. While this measure changed the name of the State Aviation Authority to the Arizona Department of Aeronautics, the powers and functions remained basically the same.
Laws 1968, Chapter 209 created the Department of Public Safety and moved all powers and duties of the Arizona Highway Patrol into the new department. For more information, see the history of the Department of Public Safety.
Laws 1973, Chapter 146 created the Department of Transportation to “provide for an integrated and balanced state transportation system.” This measure combined the Arizona Highway Department and the Department of Aeronautics into one large multi-modal department. The Director of the Department and the Transportation Board were given oversight, rather than the State Engineer. The Division of Aeronautics was created within the new ADOT.
Laws 1995, Chapter 132 reorganized state transportation laws. The act repealed A.R.S. Titles 2 and 18, and repealed and rewrote Title 28. The sections within Title 28 were renumbered.
Laws 2000, Chapter 99 transferred authority, powers, property, and personnel of the Grand Canyon National Park Airport to ADOT and eliminated the Grand Canyon Airport Authority. The measure required ADOT to lease the property and facilities to a nonprofit organization for a maximum term of 20 years.
Laws 2015, Chapter 244 repealed the Department of Weights and Measures, and transferred most of the responsibilities to the new Division of Weights and Measures Services within the Department of Agriculture. The responsibility for regulating for-hire transportation (taxi, limousine, livery vehicle services) was transferred to ADOT. The measure also transferred all administrative matters, contracts, and judicial/quasi-judicial actions, regardless of status, to ADOT or the Department of Agriculture as applicable. Property, data, investigative findings and unexpended or unencumbered appropriated monies were also transferred to ADOT or the Department of Agriculture as applicable. The act included an effective date of July 1, 2016.
Laws 2017, Chapter 44 allowed ADOT to assume certain environmental responsibilities related to highway projects subject to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The measure also modified procurement procedures and addressed local transportation revenue funding.
Laws 2017, Chapter 315 repealed the Citizens Transportation Oversight Committee and the Special Assistant for the Regional Transportation Plan.
Laws 2018, Chapter 166 authorized ADOT to implement a system to provide electronic or digital versions of various transportation related official documents, including driver licenses, vehicle registration cards and license plates. Display of these documents on a wireless communication device will satisfy requirements to have these records while operating a vehicle. The measure also addressed various ADOT procedures and responsibilities related to medical and vision standards, financial transactions, and driver licenses.
Laws 2018, Chapter 260 transferred the authority to designate a highway or area as historic or scenic, from the State Transportation Board to the State Board on Geographic and Historic Names. The transfer of authority was effective on July 1, 2019. The omnibus measure also made a number of revisions to ADOT administrative responsibilities, rulemaking authority, procedures and requirements.
Laws 2018, Chapter 298 allows a registered scrap metal dealer or a licensed automotive recycler to purchase and scrap a vehicle without obtaining a certificate of title if certain conditions are met. Scrap metal dealers and automotive recyclers are required to provide a list of vehicles purchased each day for scrap or parts. The measure outlined reporting and record-keeping requirements, violations and penalties and included a conditional enactment which states the law does not become effective unless ADOT implements, by October 1, 2020, an electronic system for reporting all vehicle acquisitions within 48 hours including information verifying the vehicle has not been reported stolen.
Laws 2019, Chapter 201 requires, rather than allows, ADOT to suspend or revoke the license of a person who is required to attend and successfully complete traffic survival school, and fails to do so. The measure also requires a person to complete traffic survival school if ADOT receives a notice the person has been convicted of an offense in another jurisdiction that would be grounds for suspension or revocation of a driver license if the offense had been committed in Arizona.
Laws 2019, Chapter 307 authorizes ADOT to refuse to issue, suspend or revoke a registration, license plate or permit for commercial motor carrier vehicles that fail to meet requirements outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The measure has an effective date of September 1, 2020.
- A.R.S.§§28-101 et seq.
- Session Laws
- Laws 1912, Chapter 66
- Laws 1927, Chapter 2, 4th Special Session
- Laws 1931, Chapter 104
- Laws 1950, Chapter 45
- Laws 1962, Chapter 51
- Laws 1968, Chapter 209
- Laws 1973, Chapter 146
- Laws 1995, Chapter 132
- Laws 2000, Chapter 99
- Laws 2015, Chapter 244
- Laws 2017, Chapter 44 and Chapter 315
- Laws 2018, Chapter 166, Chapter 260, and Chapter 298
- Laws 2019, Chapter 201 and Chapter 307
ADOT Research Center
Master List of State Programs, 2014-2016
Related Collections (Arizona State Archives)
- RG 052 – Highway Department, 1920-2005
- RG 053 – Arizona Department of Transportation
- RG 152 – Arizona Department of Public Safety
- RG 204 – Geographic Names Board