In an attempt to keep the roads in the state safe, Arizona has implemented a point system for drivers who commit certain moving violations. Different violations result in different point amounts being added to your driving record. Accumulating too many points can result in an automatic license suspension from the Arizona Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicles Division (MVD).
Because your driving rights are at stake, defending against claims that you violated the motor vehicle law in Arizona is crucial. Even the smallest moving violation can put you over the point limit and lead to a license suspension, so having an effective traffic attorney on your side can make a huge difference.
Arizona's Point System for Moving Violations
If you are convicted for a moving violation in Arizona, or if you violate bail conditions while being charged for a moving violation, points will be assessed to your driving record unless you can take a Defensive Driving School course. The number of points you get depends on the moving violation:
|Driving Under the Influence||8|
|Extreme Driving Under the Influence||8|
|Leaving the Scene of an Accident (Hit-and-Run)||6|
|Failure to Stop or Yield, Resulting in a Fatal Crash||6|
|Failure to Stop or Yield, Resulting in a Serious Injury||4|
|Driving or Parking in the Gore Area||3|
|All Other Moving Violations||2|
If you acquire 8 or more points on your record within 12 months or are required to attend Traffic Survival School or your license could be suspended for 12 months. If you accumulate 24 points or more in 36 months, you will face a one-year suspension.
Some moving violations, as you can see from the table above, lead to immediate year-long suspensions. However, even the smallest violations can add up to a suspension if there are enough of them. Additionally, some situations result in multiple moving violations, like leaving the scene of an accident and speeding, which can put you over the point limit and lead to your license getting suspended.
If you're unsure about how many points you currently have on your drivers' license, you can check online.
Traffic Survival School
If you've accumulated 8 or more points on your driver's record in the past 12 months, you may be required to either attend Traffic Survival School (TSS), or have your license suspended for a year. The Arizona courts webpage provides a listing of certified schools.
TSS is a program that lets you avoid a license suspension for certain kinds of moving violations by attending an intensive driving course. TSS is a requirement to prevent a license suspension if you've accumulated 8 or more points on your driving record in the past 12 months, or have been convicted of:
- Aggressive driving;
- Reckless driving;
- Running a red light;
- Any moving violation that involved a death or serious injury; or
- Any moving violation committed while you were 18 years old or younger.
Importantly, though, TSS does not help avoid a license suspension if you've been convicted for driving under the influence (DUI) in Arizona. Worse, a DUI conviction does not only result in a license suspension. Depending on the number of prior DUI convictions you've had, you could face between $1,250 and $3,500 in fines, as well as between 10 days and 2 years of jail time.
The TSS course is typically an 8-hour lecture that includes information meant to ensure you don't make the same mistake on the roads, again, and aims to teach attendees about:
- Arizona traffic laws;
- Defensive driving techniques;
- Sharing the road with others; and
- Driving responsibly.
After completing the TSS course, you'll need to notify the traffic court that you passed the class, so they can make the necessary changes to your case and prevent the license suspension from taking effect.
Defensive Driving School
In addition to TSS, Arizona also offers courses in Defensive Driving School. These can be used to dismiss a traffic violation, if you have not been convicted, yet, or prevent points from being added to your driver's record after a conviction, or to reduce the costs you pay in insurance. However, a Defensive Driving School class cannot be used to remove points that have already been assessed to your driver's record. Instead, it can only be used in a currently pending moving violation case.
Importantly, though, Defensive Driving School classes can only be used for certain moving violations, and only certain people are eligible to take them. For example, commercial drivers' license holders are ineligible, as are people who have already taken a Defensive Driving School class in the past year. If you and your ticket are eligible for Defensive Driving School, though, it can be a useful way of preventing too many points from accumulating on your driver's record.
Defensive Driving School classes are 4 hours long – half the time of a TSS course – and can be completed online.
Collateral Consequences of a License Suspension
In addition to legal consequences of being convicted of a traffic offense, you can also face consequences that come from private companies as well.
If you're a commercial driver and you get convicted of a moving violation, your employer could take action against you, putting you on probation or even firing you. If your employment contract allows this to happen – as many employment contracts for drivers do – then you'll likely be left without recourse.
Even if you're not a commercial driver, being convicted of a traffic offense in Arizona can raise your insurance premiums. If you've accumulated too many driving points and have your license suspended, one of the requirements to get it reinstated is to prove you have car insurance by filing an SR-22 form with the MVD from your insurance company. Unfortunately, SR-22 holders face a significant hike in their insurance premiums, because they are seen as an increased risk by the companies that provide insurance.
Traffic Attorneys at the Arizona Criminal Traffic Law Office
In many cases, defending against a traffic ticket is defending your right to drive, because it can put you over the point limit and suspend your license. In these cases, having an attorney from the Arizona Criminal Traffic law office can be a huge help. Contact us online or call our law office at (888) 202-9222.