What Is Criminal Speeding in Arizona?
Most people think of a simple fine — not criminal charges — when they think of speeding tickets. In some cases, though, violating AZ speeding laws could land you in jail and stick you with fines. At Brandon White Law, our talented legal team defends people cited for excessive speed and works hard to protect your freedom and mitigate any penalties you face.
There are multiple ways you could be issued a criminal speeding ticket in Arizona, per A.R.S. §28-701.02:
- Driving 20mph or more over the posted speed limit
- Driving over 45mph in a rural area or where no speed limit is posted
- Driving more than 35mph in a school zone
Most drivers who receive a criminal speeding ticket get it for going 20 or more mph over the posted speed limit, but no matter how you received the ticket, the potential penalties will be the same.
Statistics on Motor Vehicle Crashes Caused by Speeding in Arizona
According to the 2012 Arizona Traffic Crash Reports, in 2021:
- 19,554 people were injured in speeding-related collisions
- 35,673 drivers were issued citations for driving too fast for conditions
- Speeding too fast for conditions was the second-highest cause of a collision (15.46%)
- Exceeding the lawful speed was the cause of 46 car wreck fatalities
These are just some of the main reasons why Arizona speeding laws seem to be so strict compared with other states.
The Difference Between Criminal and Civil Speeding
As stated in Arizona Revised Statutes § 28-701, Arizona expects drivers to adhere to reasonable and prudent speeds when traveling on state roads. Violations of the law are typically considered civil infractions, but when a driver reaches excessive speeds, as defined in Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 28-701.02, the speeding charge becomes criminal.
Criminal speeding occurs when a driver exceeds:
- 85 miles per hour on any roadway
- Or anytime, someone exceeds 20+ miles per hour over the posted speed limit
Criminal speeding is a Class Three misdemeanor under Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 28-701.02(B). Misdemeanor sentences can include fines and jail time. Our experienced lawyers in Gilbert could help drivers who have been charged with criminal speeding violations avoid maximum penalties.
Penalties for an Excessive Speeding Conviction in Gilbert, Arizona
Criminal speeding is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor in Arizona, with penalties of up to 30 days in jail and $500 in fines. The AZ Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) adds points to your license, too; accumulating too many points in a short time frame can lead to license suspension or revocation.
If you were cited for excessive speeding or exceeding the posted speed limit, your penalties can include:
- Jail time
- A misdemeanor or felony on your criminal record
- Mandatory driving classes or counseling
- Suspension of your driver's license
- Increased auto insurance premiums
- Fines and court fees
- Mandatory community service
If your citation includes aggressive or reckless driving charges, your fines, and jail time likely increase. Unlike other types of traffic citations, a criminal speeding conviction is on your permanent record and can’t be expunged. A local Gilbert criminal speeding defense lawyer can help drivers avoid steep penalties.
Criminal Speeding Point Violations
If you’re convicted of criminal speeding in Arizona, you’ll have three points added to your license. If you accumulate eight or more points, you face consequences imposed by the MVD:
- Mandatory traffic school
- License suspension
- License revocation
You aren’t off the hook if you are not an Arizona resident — the Arizona MVD reports out-of-state violations to their corresponding departments, so you may face point penalties when you get home.
The Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Speeding Conviction
In addition to criminal penalties, a misdemeanor speeding conviction can negatively impact other aspects of an individual's life. Points added to a person's license could put them over the threshold for a license suspension.
The loss of a driver's license could also affect other aspects of life, including their ability to get to work or school. If a person drives for a living or needs a safe driving record to maintain their job, their employer may fire them. Other financial consequences could be increased, such as car insurance premiums and surcharge fees for impounding a vehicle upon being pulled over.
These and other related consequences are additional stressors in an already challenging situation. A skilled attorney could help Gilbert drivers devise a comprehensive defense plan that addresses all the concerns surrounding a criminal speeding case.
How Is Speed Enforced in Arizona?
Our Team of criminal speed attorneys have faced several methods that Arizona police and highway patrol officers use to cite drivers for speeding. Some methods are less reliable than others and are therefore more straightforward to defend against.
Other methods that police use to calculate speeding may be more reliable technologically, but they still could result in inaccuracies. The first step in your defense is to identify how the citing officer determined you were speeding.
The following are some of the most common methods used to determine speeding, arranged in order from least reliable to most reliable.
Visual estimation of speeding is exactly what it sounds like: The officer issues a speeding ticket based on their visual estimate of the rate you were traveling. You don’t need to be an experienced speeding ticket defense lawyer to see how this method could be unreliable, but according to Arizona laws, it’s still a valid method of determining whether a driver is speeding.
The best defense against this method is to prove that your speed could not be accurately calculated and to call the reliability of this method into question.
Pacing is when an officer follows a vehicle for a certain distance, maintaining consistent spacing between the patrol vehicle and the driver in question. The officer monitors their own speed and uses that reading as a cause for a traffic/speeding stop.
One defense we use is calling into question whether the patrol car’s speedometer is properly calibrated. In other cases, we may argue that the officer was accelerating at the time they took a speedometer reading or that their own speed fluctuated and could not be relied upon to give an accurate reading.
Radar is a common method of calculating the speed of vehicles. A soundwave device measures speed based on changes in the frequency of the soundwaves. Radar devices may be used when the officer is moving and when they’re stationary.
Although these are fairly accurate, radar devices have a few flaws. First, as the soundwaves travel, they fan out, so the officer may be measuring another driver’s speed — not yours. Second, radar guns must be recalibrated regularly or they are inaccurate. They’re also inaccurate when operated by an untrained user.
Instead of sound waves, lidar devices use multiple pulses of infrared lighting from a focused beam on a single object (usually a car’s license plate). This eliminates the “spreading” problems of radar guns.
Although lidar is considered to be the most accurate method of calculating speeding, it’s not without flaws, the most common of which is user error.
Refraction of the infrared light is another problem, especially in summer. Arizona heat can make it more difficult for the lidar gun to get a lock and measurement of your plate, and therefore your calculated speed could be inaccurate.
The Court Process for Criminal Speeding
If you and your lawyer aren't able to come to a plea arrangement for your criminal speeding ticket, then your case will progress to trial. We will explain each step of the criminal speeding violation trial, but in general, most Arizona criminal speeding ticket trials progress in the following way:
- Pre-Trial Conference
- Pre-Trial Conference
- Negotiation & Mitigation
- Plea Agreement or Trial
What you should expect is much the same as what you would expect in any criminal case in Arizona. When you are issued an Arizona criminal speeding ticket, a date will be listed on your ticket. When the officer gives you the ticket and lets you continue driving, you promise to appear in court on that date. This date is called the arraignment date.
The arraignment date is the date you will enter a plea. If you hire an attorney before your arraignment date, your attorney will file paperwork with the court entering a “not guilty” plea. The court will then vacate, or cancel, your arraignment date and set a new date for a pretrial conference.
The pretrial conference is often the first opportunity for your attorney to meet with the prosecutor in your case and discuss settlement and excessive speed. Sometimes not much happens before the initial pretrial conference. This is because the rules of criminal procedure in a misdemeanor case do not require the prosecutor to do anything before that initial pretrial conference.
In an excessive speed case, you can expect several pretrial conferences, usually occurring about 30 days apart.
Before your initial pretrial conference, we will send discovery requests to the prosecutor seeking to get information that may be helpful to your case. We will continue the discovery process until we have all the relevant information that is available.
Pretrial conferences will continue to occur until either a settlement has been reached or until it is apparent that no settlement can be reached and all relevant information has been obtained from the prosecutor, at which point the case will be set for trial. If we are able to reach an agreement, the court will generally conduct a change of plea hearing to formally resolve the case.
How Do You Defend Against a Criminal Speeding Charge in Court?
- Finding technological errors: Because of the precise wording of the Arizona statute, finding errors in the methods used by an officer (I.e., how he/she obtained your speed, etc.) can be an effective way to repel such charges.
- Checking the facts: Information such as your location and speed at the time of the charge can be used to refute some of the provisions under which criminal speed violations can be issued and can also be possible defenses that should be looked into.
Let one of our Criminal Speed Lawyers help defend you and work towards the best outcome possible.
Criminal Speeding and Defensive Driving School
If you haven’t been to an Arizona Defensive Driving School (DDS) within the last year, then you may be able to have your speeding ticket dismissed by attending, per A.R.S. §28-3392(A)(2).
However, this isn’t an automatic option for speeding violators — you and your attorney will have to make a case to the traffic court judge as to why you should be permitted to attend DDS. In addition, the assigned prosecuting attorney has a right to be heard and object to court allowing for DDS. One benefit of having legal representation is that your lawyer can negotiate a plea arrangement like this with the prosecutor.
Schedule a Consultation with a Criminal Speeding Ticket Attorney in AZ
Do you need affordable speeding ticket defense in Arizona? We offer free consultations and tenacious defense of your freedom — contact the Law Offices of Brandon White today!
Gilbert Criminal Speeding Defense Attorneys Protect Your Rights
Criminal speeding is more than a moving violation, so it may be wise to retain experienced legal counsel to help you fight back. Our Gilbert criminal speeding lawyers understand that facing criminal charges can be scary and overwhelming. We have the skill to guide you through this process and do everything we can to help you reach a positive outcome.
You benefit from:
- An experienced Criminal Defense Team led by a Former State Trooper and made up of Former Prosecuting Attorneys
- Our deep knowledge of Arizona criminal speeding laws
- Familiarity with the unreliability of many speed-measuring methods
- Our fierce negotiation skills to mitigate penalties with a plea arrangement
- Our commitment to your rights and freedom
Whether your case is out of Gilbert City Court, Kyrene Justice Court, Chandler City Court, San Marcos Justice Court, or San Tan Justice Court, we have you covered. Please reach out to us soon so we can start reviewing your case.
Why Choose Brandon White Law Firm for Your Criminal Speeding Case in Phoenix?
The dedicated criminal speeding defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Brandon White work with clients just like you every day. We understand the burden a criminal speeding charge can place on your freedom, wallet, and ability to drive for work and school. That’s why we work hard to ensure you receive a great defense and use strategies tailored to your specific circumstances.
Our Arizona Criminal Speeding Lawyers
- Keep abreast of any changes in Arizona traffic laws
- Understand the drawbacks of many common methods of tracking speeding
- Treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve
Before founding the Law Offices of Brandon White, head attorney Brandon White worked as an Arizona State Trooper — he understands firsthand the limitations of speed trackers and puts this inside knowledge to work for you.
You Need a Gilbert Excessive Speeding Attorney Who Fights for YouSchedule Consultation
Can I Take a Defensive Driving School Class a Second Time?
You are permitted to take DDS only if you haven’t participated in the DDS program within the last year. If it’s been longer than a year since you last attended DDS, then you should be eligible, should the court allow it.
Is Defensive Driving School Offered if the Defendant Lives out of State?
Yes, if you received a speeding ticket in Arizona, you can still negotiate to attend DDS — classes are offered online, so out-of-state offenders may participate this way. In-state attendees also have this option.