When driving on the roads in Arizona, there are numerous laws that motorists must obey. In most instances, failing to follow the rules of the road will result in a simple citation and a fine. However, there are certain kinds of traffic violations that can result in criminal charges. These criminal moving violations can be either misdemeanors or felonies and can result in time behind bars, fines, and other penalties such as license suspension. If you are facing criminal charges for violating a traffic law, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp today for a free case evaluation.
Criminal Moving Violations
There are several different offenses that can result in a criminal moving violation. This page will give a brief overview of some of these offenses and the penalties that can result if convicted. Criminal moving violations can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. In general, misdemeanor offenses are those that are punishable by less than a year in jail, while felonies are those offenses that are punishable by more than a year behind bars.
Driving When Privilege Has Been Restricted
This offense is commonly called driving with a suspended license but it encompasses more than just those who drive when they are under a license suspension. Under A.R.S. § 28-3473, drivers who have had their licenses “suspended, revoked, canceled, or refused” cannot operate a motor vehicle on a public highway in Arizona. Driving privileges can be taken away because a driver has accumulated too many points on his or her licenses or has been convicted of certain other offenses. If a driver who has lost their driving privileges, either temporarily or permanently chooses to drive anyway, he or she can be charged with driving with a suspended license. This offense is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor which is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Another way that a violation of the traffic laws can become a criminal offense is if a person speeds excessively. According to Arizona law, A.R.S. § 28-701.02, speeding can be charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor in one of the following circumstances:
- If a driver “exceed[s] 35 miles per hour approaching a school crossing.”
- If a driver goes “more than twenty miles per hour” over the “posted speed limit in a business or residential district.”
- If a driver goes more than forty-five miles per hour in a business or residential district when no speed limit is posted.
- If a driver “exceed[s] eighty-five miles per hour in other locations.”
The penalty for a Class 3 misdemeanor can be up to thirty days in jail and a fine of up to $500. While this may seem to be a fairly mild punishment, it is important to remember that a criminal conviction can have a significant impact on a person's life and affect things, like employment opportunities and housing choices.
Reckless driving is another criminal moving violation. In Arizona, “[a] person who drives a vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” A.R.S. § 28-693. A first reckless driving offense is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor. The penalty for a Class 2 misdemeanor is up to four months in jail and a fine of up to $750. In addition to these penalties, a driver can have his or her license suspended for up to 90 days.
For a second reckless driving offense committed within twenty-four months of the first, the penalties are more severe. A second reckless driving offense is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and up to six months behind bars. A person convicted of this offense must serve at least twenty days in jail before he or she will be eligible for “probation, pardon, suspension or sentence or release on any basis.” A.R.S. § 28-693. In addition, a driver's driving privileges can be revoked if found guilty of a reckless driving a second time.
Another criminal moving violation is aggressive driving. According to A.R.S. § 28-695, aggressive driving occurs when:
- A “person's driving is an immediate hazard to another person or vehicle;” and
- A person commits a violation of either A.R.S. 28-701(A) (speeding) or A.R.S. 28-701.02 (excessive speeding); and at least two of the following:
- Failure to obey traffic control devices as provided in § 28-644;
- Overtaking and passing another vehicle on the right by driving off the pavement or main traveled portion of the roadway as provided in § 28-724;
- Unsafe lane change as provided in § 28-729;
- Following a vehicle too closely as provided in § 28-730;
- Failure to yield the right-of-way as provided in article 9 of this chapter.
Aggressive driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor and is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. In addition, the driver's license can be suspended for at least thirty days and may have to complete “traffic survival school education sessions that are designed to improve the safety and habits of drivers and that are approved by the department.”
Highway racing is also considered a criminal offense. A.R.S. § 28-708 states “[a] person shall not drive a vehicle or participate in any manner in a race, speed competition or contest, drag race or acceleration contest, test of physical endurance or exhibition of speed or acceleration or for the purpose of making a speed record on a street or highway.” A first conviction is a Class 1 misdemeanor. In addition, to the penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to six months in jail and up to $2,500 fine), an individual may have to pay a fine of at least $250, perform community service, and refrain from driving (license suspension) for up to ninety days.
Contact Hamp Law
If you have been charged with a criminal moving violation in Kingman or Bullhead City, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp today. Shawn Hamp has been practicing law in Arizona for over 15 years and is dedicated to fighting for those who have been accused of a crime. Let his knowledge and experience work for you. Call Hamp Law at 1-866-490-HAMP or contact the firm by filling out the online contact form.