Like all states, Arizona not only imposes fines and other penalties for traffic violations but also adds points to your driving record, which can quickly result in a higher premium for your auto insurance and suspension of your driving privileges.
Arizona traffic tickets can result in either civil or criminal charges. Civil offenses like speeding generally carry just a fine. Criminal traffic offenses like driving under the influence (DUI) carry more serious penalties, criminal speeding (in Arizona referred to as “excessive speed”) which may include heftier fines, potential jail time, and the loss of your driving privileges.
If you’re facing a serious traffic violation charge, perhaps a false charge, or worse, you feel you have been the victim of police misconduct, contact me immediately at The Law Office of William L. Morris, P.L.L.C.
For more than a decade, I have been fighting for the rights of citizens in and around Scottsdale, Arizona, as well as Tempe, Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Glendale, and the surrounding areas. Call me now so we can discuss your situation, assess the best options going forward, and then work together for the most favorable outcome available.
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TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS IN ARIZONA
Traffic violations fall into two classes — civil and criminal. A civil speeding ticket (not greater than 20 mph over the posted speed limit) may result in a fine of $250 for driving 1 mph – 19 mph over the limit, though fines can vary county by county and court by court. A criminal speeding ticket, also known as “excessive speed” can be cited if you are traveling more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit or over 85 mph. A DUI, is always a criminal offense, and can result in substantial mandatory fines, jail time, installation of an ignition interlock device for an extended period of time, and loss/restriction of your driving privileges.
Even a first-time DUI can land you in jail for a minimum of 10 days, get your license suspended, force you to attend Traffic Survival School and mandatory treatment for drugs and alcohol, and require you to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicles for one-year.
Arizona recognizes a general “catch-all” speeding law, prima facie speed limits, and absolute speed limits. The general “catch-all” speeding law states that you must drive at a speed that is “reasonable and prudent under the circumstances, conditions and actual and potential hazards then existing.” Thus, traveling 35 MPH in a 35 MPH zone might be prudent on a bright, light traffic, sunny day, but not reasonable or prudent on a rainy day, heavy traffic, etc.
The prima facie limits are:
- 15 MPH approaching school crossings
- 25 MPH in business and residential districts
- 65 MPH in all other locations
The absolute speed limit is 75 MPH on an interstate highway located outside an urbanized area with a population of 50,000 or more.
Penalties can rise, however, if your speed under certain circumstances or in certain areas is excessive. For instance, if you drive 35 MPH while approaching a school crossing, or you exceed a posted limit by more than 20 MPH, or you drive 86 MPH or faster in any location, these violations can lead to as much as 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500, not including any additional mandatory surcharges.
Reckless driving — operating a vehicle “in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property” — is a class 2 misdemeanor and can land you in jail for up to four months with a maximum fine of $750, not including any additional mandatory surcharges.
Aggressive Driving on the other hand is a class 1 misdemeanor and can land you in jail for up to six months with a maximum fine of $2,500, not including any additional mandatory surcharges.
UNDERSTANDING ARIZONA’S POINT SYSTEM
While it may be tempting to get things over with quickly on a basic speeding ticket by just sending in your check, paying online, or attend the Defensive Driving Course there are consequences to your driving record that can increase your auto insurance premiums and even get your license suspended. This is due to the points that are added to your record for each moving traffic violation.
Speeding will net you three points, a conviction for failing to stop at a red light results in four points, and following too closely is worth two points. A DUI, reckless driving, and aggressive driving all will net you a whopping eight points!
Some of the more serious offenses, such as DUIs, reckless driving, and/or aggressive driving may include license suspensions as part of the penalties, but just getting a total of eight points in a 12-month span from traffic violations will result in your having to attend a Traffic Survival School (not to be confused with Defensive Driving Course), which is an 8-hour in person class and failure to so attend and complete the Traffic Survival School will result in your driving privileges being suspensed for not less than 90 days.
FIGHTING A TRAFFIC TICKET
Police officers make mistakes and radar speed guns need constant recalibration to be accurate. Officers can also confuse you and/or your vehicle with someone else who is actually violating the law. There are both legal and factual bases for challenging a ticket.
You can also get most minor violations dismissed if you qualify and attend a 4-hour Defensive Driving Course, but you can only do this once every 12 months, and your violation must not have resulted in serious injury or death. The course must be completed at least seven days before your court date.
Your other options are to plead guilty and pay the fine or plead “not guilty” (criminal traffic) or “not resposible” (civil traffic) and set the case up for a future hearing on the issue.
If you go to court and win your case, you will face no fine and receive no points on your driving record, but if you lose, you will have to pay the fine along with court fees for your appearance, as well as receiving points.
If you go to court, you can represent yourself or hire an attorney. An attorney can be a tremendous asset not only in helping you potentially win your case but also in getting your charge reduced or penalties lessened.
WHY YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY
There are many reasons to challenge a traffic citation, especially a serious one that may carry criminal penalties such as aggressive/reckless driving or a DUI. Even with lesser civil traffic offenses, the points going on your driving record can lead to higher insurance premiums that are difficult to get rid of for years. If you’ve been charged with a traffic violation, consider your options and call Attorney William L. Morris immediately to assess what your next steps can and should be.
TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS ATTORNEY
IN SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
For an aggressive, knowledgeable, and experienced traffic violations attorney, get in touch with me at The Law Office of William L. Morris, P.L.L.C. I am proud to serve clients throughout the greater Scottsdale area, including the neighboring areas of Tempe, Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Glendale, Arizona. Reach out to me to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation today. Do not wait or delay!
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