What Is Criminal Speeding Violation?
If you’re looking for laws that cover all transportation-related issues, look no further than Title 28 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. A.R.S. § 28-701.02, the excessive speed statute, states that there are a few circumstances under which you can be cited for criminal speed:
- Driving above 35 mph in a school zone, or
- Driving 20 miles above the speed limit in a residential or business area (or at 45 mph if there isn’t a posted limit), or
- Driving at 20 mph above the posted speed limit, or
- Driving at 85 mph or above on any road
However, it is important to remember that it is up to an officer’s discretion whether you are actually cited for civil or criminal speed.
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.
How Is Speed Enforced in Arizona?
According to our head attorney Brandon White, there are several methods that officers in Arizona employ to measure and enforce speed. Here are some of the most common, arranged in order from least reliable to most reliable:
Some officers may, in fact, issue a criminal speeding ticket based on their visual estimate of the speed that you were traveling. While they may be certified in estimating speed, this method is incredibly subjective and rarely used because of its lack of reliability.
Pacing is the method by which an officer follows a suspect vehicle for a certain distance with his/her patrol vehicle, trying to neither gain nor fall behind the driver. This means the officer attempts to keep an equal distance between the front of their patrol vehicle and the rear of the driver’s vehicle. The officer then reads/monitors their patrol vehicle’s speedometer and uses that speed reading to base a traffic stop and possibly cite the speeding vehicle. It is expected though not required of Officers to ensure their patrol vehicle’s speedometer is calibrated to ensure it’s reading correctly. But this is not always the case. In addition, this method is vulnerable to faulty readings, since an officer may be accelerating at the time of the reading, or their own speed is fluctuating and not actually keeping an equal distance at all times.
Radar is a commonly used method to measure speed, in which a radar device sends out a certain set of sound waves and measures the speed of an object based on the changes in the wave’s frequency. The type of device used by an officer depends on whether the officer is stationary or moving; for stationary officers, either handheld radar guns or vehicle-mounted radar systems are used. For moving officers, only the in-car units are acceptable. Either way, these devices generally require regular calibration and a trained user to be accurate, so demonstrating a lack of such maintenance can cast doubt on the officer’s alleged speed reading and thus help your case. Additionally, since radar waves tend to branch out once emitted, an officer may be recording the speed of multiple vehicles, which means that you may not have been responsible.
Lidar is one of the more accurate methods to measure speed. It’s like radar in that it sends a wave to record a vehicle's speed, but it uses highly focused lasers to do so. This device is generally handheld, so stationary officers will likely be using it. Again, regular calibration and officer training is required to produce accurate readings.
As you can see, each of these methods has its own limitations, some more severe than others. For instance, since there isn’t a consistent statute or law that necessitates that radar and LIDAR devices be calibrated, a lot of the pitfalls of speed enforcement are used to introduce reasonable doubt as to your criminal speed charges. It is important to keep in mind, however, that larger speeding infractions are harder to explain by user or instrument error.
Punishment for Criminal Speeding in Gilbert, AZ
Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-707(A)(3) establishes that, because criminal speeding is a Class Three Misdemeanor, drivers can face up to 30 days and jail and up to $500 in fines, according to Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-802(C). Additionally, the Motor Vehicle Department might choose to add points to the person’s license.
Defendants might also face charges for other offenses such as reckless or aggressive driving, which could increase the potential incarceration time and fines. Unlike standard traffic violations, criminal speeding convictions appear on a person's criminal record indefinitely and cannot be expunged.
Gilbert lawyers versed in criminal speeding matters could help drivers avoid the steepest penalties, minimize the impact of charges on them every day, and preserve their future.
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.
Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself
In many cases, speeding can happen absentmindedly, especially when speed limits are near 75-80 mph, making it easier to slowly inch past the 85 mph speed limit. However, some simple tricks can help you stay beneath the limit, such as:
- Driving with cruise control on whenever possible: this way, you will never exceed the speed set by your car’s computer
- Use speed alert systems: many cars have inbuilt functions that notify the driver when their speed exceeds the amount that the driver set an alert for
- Make sure to check your speedometer: while it may seem obvious, a quick glance at your speedometer when safe can help prevent unintentional acceleration
In the case that you are cited for criminal speed, an experienced excessive speed attorney can help you understand your case and protect your rights throughout the process including negotiating with the prosecuting attorney assigned to your 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.
Working with a Gilbert Criminal Speeding Attorney is Key
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. Whether your case is out of Gilbert City Court, Kyrene Justice 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.