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Criminal Speeding Frequently Asked Questions

Posted by Shawn Hamp | Feb 07, 2017 | 0 Comments

Criminal speeding

What is criminal speeding in Arizona?

Criminal speeding can be committed by doing the following:

  • Traveling over 35 mph approaching a School Zone.
  • Traveling over 20 mph in a residential or commercial area.
  • Traveling over 85 mph ANYWHERE in the state.

A.R.S. 701.02

What is the difference between a criminal traffic ticket vs. civil traffic infraction?

As a criminal offense, a criminal speeding ticket is different from a civil ticket and you could possibly be facing jail time. A defendant is not automatically eligible to attend defensive driving school (DDS), and most judges will deny a request to attend DDS.  Criminal speeding cases are punishable with a fine not to exceed $500 (plus surcharges).

Can I get Defensive Driving School (or traffic school) for a criminal speeding ticket?

It is possible to get Defensive Driving School  (a.k.a. traffic school) for a criminal speeding ticket, but it is not automatic and is entirely up to the judge. To request Defensive Driving School, a motion has to be filed with the court. A.R.S. 28-3392

As a matter of practical experience, most judges WILL NOT allow DDS. A judge may still legally allow it if:

  • You have not attended Defensive Driving School in Arizona for any violation in the past 12 months
  • The Defendant has a current valid driver's license
  • The traffic violation did not involve a serious accident or injury
  • The Defendant is not a commercial driver

Our office files motions on behalf of eligible clients to attend Defensive Driving School based on the circumstances of each case.

How much is the fine for criminal speeding?

The maximum fine for a criminal speeding  (a class 3 misdemeanor) is $580.00; $500 plus a $80 surcharge. A.R.S. 13-802

It is possible to get fines reduced in a criminal speeding case dependent upon the circumstances of the case.

How many points is criminal speeding on my license?

In Arizona, criminal speeding has the same amount of points as a civil speeding ticket (3pts).  You will be ordered to attend traffic school if you receive 8 traffic points in a 12 month period. If you get 12 points in a 12 month period, your license could face suspension.

Will criminal speeding case be on my permanent record?

Yes.  The State of Arizona does not have expungement or “sealing” of criminal convictions.  The only relief is to file a petition to “set aside” a criminal conviction once the entire criminal sentence, probation, and fines have been served.

Do I have to go to court?

Not usually if you hire an attorney.

A defendant that hires a criminal attorney may have their presence waved for most court proceedings under Rule 14.1(c)(1) of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure.  A defense attorney may also enter a not guilty plea on their client's behalf so that they may waive their client's initial appearance before a court. Rule 9.1 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure.

A court may still require the personal attendance of a defendant at some hearings such as a trial or sentencing.  Our office works to waive our client's presence for most hearings and minimize or eliminate any court time for our clients when possible for most if not all hearings.

Will a criminal speeding conviction impact my immigration status?

Possibly.  If you are not a U.S. Citizen, being convicted of a crime can impact your immigration status or ability to become a U.S. Citizen.

A defendant who is convicted of a drug offense or crime of moral turpitude could face immediate action up to possible deportation.

Criminal speeding IS NOT generally considered a crime of moral turpitude. Multiple criminal convictions, however could trigger negative immigration consequences even if they are not crimes of moral turpitude or a drug offense.

What are the steps in a criminal speeding case?

  1. Initial Appearance – Must appear in court to enter a guilty or not guilty plea before a judge.  A defendant may make alternative arrangements not to appear if they hire an attorney or make other arrangements with the court ahead of the scheduled hearing date.
  2. Pretrial Conference – An opportunity for a defendant to meet with the prosecutor to receive disclosures and work out a possible non-trial resolution to the case.
  3. Bench Trial  – A bench trial is a hearing before a judge where witnesses and testimony are presented by the State to prove a defendant guilty. A defendant may call witnesses and make arguments on their own behalf and cross examine State's witnesses.
  4. Change of Plea – If a defendant or a defendant's attorney negotiates a plea agreement, a defendant must sign a plea agreement to reflect that agreement. A change of plea hearing is conducted in front of a judge. Depending on the distance from court, a defendant and their attorney may ask the Court to submit a plea agreement by mail to avoid having to do a personal court hearing.

A hired criminal lawyer will attend all court hearings on behalf of a defendant and may waive their client's appearance when appropriate.

Will a criminal speeding conviction be on my record?

Yes.  All criminal convictions are recorded by Arizona courts and are public record. All courts in Arizona must report criminal convictions to the Arizona Department of Public Safety Criminal Records Division. All convictions are forwarded to the FBI NCIC (National Criminal Information Center).  

The State of Arizona does not have expungement or “sealing” of criminal convictions.  The only relief is to file a petition to “set aside” a criminal conviction after the entire criminal sentence, probation, and fines have been served.

Consult with an experienced criminal attorney to determine if a conviction for criminal speeding will impact your career, education, or immigration status.

Is it possible to get the charges reduced to a civil traffic ticket?

Yes. It typically depends on the plea negotiation policies of the county attorney or city prosecutor. A prosecutor may offer a defendant a civil traffic resolution.

Our office continually works to negotiate with prosecutors to get charges reduced or dismissed for our clients. If it is in our client's best interest, we will work to negotiate a civil traffic resolution. It is still ethically not possible to guarantee a 100% outcome in any criminal case.

Other Internet Resources

Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles

Service Arizona

Title 28 – Arizona Revised Statutes

MVD Court Manual Training Guide

Arizona Public Access

About the Author

Shawn Hamp

President and lead counsel for the Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp, P.C. (An Arizona Professional Corporation), Shawn Hamp has practiced law for more than 15 years with an emphasis in criminal law. An experienced trial attorney, Mr. Hamp has been lead counsel in hundreds of criminal trials and court...

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