Common Arizona Criminal Traffic Violations
The purpose of this guide is to inform the average individual of the most common criminal traffic violations Arizona has and what punishments can be expected if charges are brought against you. This guide is meant to be an overview and is not an exhaustive list of what can happen in these cases.
Criminal SpeedingCriminal speeding is a violation of Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S. §28-701.02), a class three misdemeanor. There are four ways a person can be cited with a criminal speeding violation:
1) Approaching a school zone in excess of 35 miles per hour
2) Driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit in a business or residential area
3) Driving 45 miles per hour or over in a residential or business area when the speed limit is not posted
4) Exceeding 85 miles per hour
While criminal speeding is not the crime of the century so to speak it does carry criminal consequences. A class three misdemeanor is punishable by up to thirty days in jail and a $500 fine plus a tax on top of that fine called a surcharge (currently 83% in 2019). Along with these punishments a criminal citation may have ripple effects on jobs, immigration status, and school or professional licensure, to name a few. To make matters more complex Arizona has no expungement from where this can be removed from your record. Positive resolutions to criminal traffic citations such as criminal speed include reducing the criminal citation to a civil citation, defensive driving school in the alternative of criminal prosecution, or dismissal of the case entirely.
Reckless DrivingReckless driving is a violation of A.R.S. 28-693, a class one or two misdemeanor, depending upon the circumstances. Reckless driving is defined as, “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).
Reckless driving is when a driver is deemed by a police officer “to act in reckless disregard for other drivers,” usually weaving or following too closely (sometimes known as ‘tailgating’). Reckless Driving is a class two misdemeanor in the State of Arizona punishable by up to four months in jail, a $750 fine plus surcharge. If previously a person has been previously convicted of any type of DUI, negligence or manslaughter charges involving a vehicle a car, or other reckless driving condition two years prior to the date of the alleged offense the charge becomes a class one misdemeanor. Class one misdemeanors are punishable by up to six months in jail, a $2,500 fine plus surcharge. As with criminal speed or any criminal conviction, a conviction results in a criminal tag that cannot be expunged and may have ripple effects on jobs and immigration status.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)Driving Under the Influence cases are governed under A.R.S. §§ 28-1381, 28-1382, and 28-1383. Arizona is one of the harshest states for DUI punishments, requiring mandatory minimum jail time. DUI cases are predicated based upon the facts of the case and have different punishments depending on the circumstances.
Simple DUI: A Simple DUI is governed by A.R.S. §28-1381, and basically says that a person cannot be impaired to the slightest degree, have a Blood Alcohol Concentrate (BAC) above a .08 (.04 if alleged person has a CDL) or have a drug or an active metabolite in their blood. Punishments include 10 days in jail, 9 of which can be suspended if drug screening and counseling are completed. Further, DUIs require the convicted person to have a Certified Ignition Interlock Device (CIID) installed on their vehicle if the offense involved alcohol. A CIID is often referred to in layman’s terms as a “breathalyzer” and is required to blow into to start the vehicle.
Extreme DUI: An Extreme DUI is defined the same as a Simple DUI, but with more harsh penalties. Extreme DUIs are governed by A.R.S. § 28-1382. A Simple DUI becomes an Extreme DUI when a person’s BAC is above a 0.15. Punishments for an Extreme DUI are 30 days in jail, 21 of which are suspended if alcohol or drug screening and counseling are completed. Extreme DUIs also require the convicted person to have CIID installed on their vehicle if the offense involved alcohol.
Super Extreme DUI: A Super Extreme DUI is the harshest level of misdemeanor DUIs. A Super Extreme is also governed by A.R.S. §28-1382. An Extreme DUI becomes a Super Extreme DUI when the BAC is above a .20 and has even more enhanced penalties than an Extreme DUI. A Super Extreme DUI is punishable by up to 45 days in jail, 30 of which can be suspended if drug or alcohol screening is completed. A person convicted of a Super Extreme DUI will be required to have a CIID installed on their vehicle if the vehicle involved alcohol.
Note: When being convicted of a second DUI within 84 months (7 years) punishments of fines and jail times are severely enhanced. Also, some courts may be petitioned to allow for home detention and/or work release as part of the sentencing. You should ask your attorney to see if they can work out a deal for you by petitioning the court.
Aggravated DUI (Felony DUI)Aggravated DUI: An Aggravated DUI is a felony under Arizona State Law and is governed by A.R.S. §28-1383. There are multiple ways to get a felony DUI and depending upon how the citation is received depends on what a person is charged with.
1) The citation comes when a person gets a DUI when their license has previously been restricted, suspended, canceled or revoked.
2) Within 84 months (7 years) a person receives 3 or more DUIs.
3) Receiving a DUI with a minor under the age of fifteen in the vehicle
4) When a person who is required by the court to have a CIID on their vehicle receives a DUI
5) Receiving a DUI while driving on the wrong side of the highway
The Punishments for these Aggravated DUIs correspond as follows:
1) Class Four Felony: Statutory mandatory minimum sentence is four months, fines, surcharges, and driver’s license revoked.
2) Class Four Felony: Statutory mandatory minimum sentence is eight months fines, surcharges, and driver’s license revoked.
3) Class Six Felony: Same punishments as misdemeanor DUI based upon BAC.
4) Class Four Felony: Minimum punishments the same as Extreme DUI.
Hit & RunHit and Run- There are multiple ways a person can find themselves charged with hit & run. Ultimately, like DUI it is predicated based upon the facts of the case.
Striking an Unattended Vehicle- Governed by A.R.S. § 28-664 the striking a vehicle that is not attended requires someone to stop and locate the owner or in the alternative leaving a written local notice of the name of the person who did the striking, the address and owner of the vehicle. This is supposed to be done even if there is no damage to the vehicle. If a person fails to leave notice or contact, the driver may be charged with a class three misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a $500 & surcharge.
Failure to stop with damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person-This rule is governed by A.R.S. §28-662. This requires if a driver strikes a vehicle that is attended and results in damage to remain as close to the accident scene as possible, remain on scene until insurance information is exchanged, and to stop without obstructing traffic. A person who fails to complete any of these steps may be charged with a class two misdemeanor. A class two misdemeanor is punishable by up to four months in jail and a $750 fine plus surcharge. Further, the court may order a driver’s license suspended for up to one year if there is reasonable suspicion that the driver was under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or drugs if any combination was a contributing factor the accident. The Arizona Motor Vehicle Division may require drug and alcohol screening and counseling to be completed before a license is reinstated.
Felony Hit and Run: Felony hit and run cases are governed by A.R.S. § 28-661. Felony hit & run sentences range from class two to class five felonies.
A.R.S. § 28-661 (B) Class 2 Felony- A driver who is involved in an accident resulting in death or serious physical injury and fails to perform the requirements in section A.R.S. §28-663 & is at fault for the accident can be charged with a class two felony.
A.R.S. § 28-661 (B) Class 3 Felony- A driver who is involved in an accident resulting in death or serious physical injury and fails to perform the requirements in section A.R.S. §28-663, while not at fault may be charged with a class three felony.
A.R.S. § 28-661 (C) Class 5 Felony- A driver who is involved in an accident resulting in injury, but not serious injury or death and fails to comply with A.R.S. §28-663 can be charged with a class five felony.
If you are convicted of any of the Felony Hit and Run statutes, your driver’s license will be revoked for five years in cases of serious physical injury and ten years in any situation resulting in death. If you are serving a term of prison, the time spent in prison will not ‘run the clock’ for your driver’s privileges, the revocation period starts as soon as you are released from custody. When applying to have driver’s license for restricted purposes the driver must adhere to the following:
1) Not be convicted of any offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle while the person’s driving privilege is revoked.
2) Full restitution as ordered by the court.
3) Complete Alcohol & Drug Screening & Counseling