Criminal Speeding in Arizona

Lerner & Rowe Law Group
Criminal Speeding in Arizona

In Arizona, a criminal speeding ticket may be more serious than you think. Generally, you can be charged for criminal speeding in Arizona by driving more than 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, or by exceeding 85 miles per hour on a highway. Unlike a civil speeding violation, which is simply a minor traffic offense, criminal speeding in Arizona is a misdemeanor crime, making it a more serious offense with possible criminal penalties, including jail time. 

A criminal speeding conviction can result in a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and up to $500 in fines. (Arizona Revised Statutes 28-701.02

At Lerner & Rowe Law Group, we work hard to minimize the effects of criminal speeding charges on our clients by providing experienced and qualified criminal defense lawyers to help resolve your case.

Criminal Speeding Charges in Arizona

There are three ways to get a ticket for criminal speeding in Arizona:

  1. Excessive speed or exceeding 85 miles per hour (28-701.02a3)
  2. Exceeding posted speed by 20 miles per hour (28-701.02a2)
  3. Exceeding 35 miles per hour near a school zone (28-701.02a1)

Penalties for Criminal Speeding in Arizona

Technically, under the law, a conviction for criminal speeding is punishable by:

  • Up to 30 days of jail
  • A fine of up to $500 plus surcharges
  • Up to one year of probation.

There can also be other consequences to a criminal speeding conviction:

  • Permanent criminal record that cannot be expunged
  • Three point violation added to license
  • Insurance premium increase
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Disqualification for commercial driver’s license status (CDL)
  • Loss of security clearances
  • Requirement to disclose “criminal conviction” on job or lease applications

Criminal Speeding Point Violations

Criminal speeding in Arizona is a three-point violation. When a person accumulates eight points or more, there can be consequences with the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), like a requirement to attend traffic survival school or a suspension of your license. Additionally, Arizona’s MVD reports all out-of-state violations, which may create issues with your local motor vehicle division if you are not an Arizona resident.

Proceedings in a Criminal Speeding Case

  1. The Citation – Most criminal speeding cases begin with a traffic stop and the police officer serving a criminal citation on the motorist. 
  2. Initial Appearance – The first court appearance is called an initial appearance. For this hearing, the defendant must appear before a judge to enter a guilty or not guilty plea. If a criminal defense lawyer is hired, he or she can make arrangements so their client does not need to appear, thereby relieving the stress of going to court.
  3. Pretrial Conference – The purpose of a pretrial conference is to provide an opportunity for a defendant or their criminal attorney to meet with the prosecutor to discuss the case, receive discovery, and begin negotiating a possible resolution. It may take a few pretrial conferences before a decision is made whether to take the case to trial or to resolve it pre-trial. 
  4. Pretrial Resolution – If a pretrial resolution is reached, the agreement is reduced to writing in something called a plea agreement. The parties then present the plea agreement to a judge who conducts a change of plea hearing. The defendant will then change their plea to guilty and the case should be resolved, consistent with the terms of the plea agreement.  
  5. Bench Trial – If the case is set to trial, it will be a bench trial before a judge. At the trial, the prosecutor will present witnesses and testimony to prove a defendant guilty. A defendant or their criminal defense lawyer may call witnesses, cross examine the State’s witnesses, and make arguments to support a defense.

Fighting a Criminal Speeding Ticket

There are three primary ways police make their speed calculations: Pacing, RADAR, and LIDAR.


The police officer positions his vehicle in front or behind while “pacing” the target vehicle, which entails maintaining a consistent distance between the two vehicles and then reading the police vehicle’s speedometer to determine the speed. 

Radar (Radio Detection and Ranging)

Police radars, either handheld or mounted to a patrol car, send a microwave beam on a specific frequency towards the target vehicle, which then reflects that microwave back to the officer’s antenna. The radar’s computer then calculates the approximate speed based on the change in frequency.

Lidar (Laser Detection and Ranging)

Police lidars measure the flight time of multiple near-infrared laser pulses fired from a lidar gun. Put simply, it measures the time it takes for the laser to reflect back to the officer’s lidar. From that information, the lidar will provide a speed calculation. 

There are several factors that can distort the accuracy of an officer’s speed calculations. In cases of pacing, perception is limited, and even slight speed changes can be imperceptible to even the best of us. 

As for the use of technology to catch speeders, refraction is the most common interference (especially during our hot Arizona summers). But the biggest weakness of this technology is police misuse: how the officer holds the gun, where it’s pointed, and whether or not the officer “sweeps“ while targeting the vehicle. 

Sweeping can be caused by an officer in motion, either in a moving vehicle or by physically moving the gun. Sweeping can cause the officer to point the gun at different focal points, resulting in a false reading. 

In any criminal speeding case, our Lerner & Rowe Law Group criminal defense attorneys can argue:

  • To lessen the penalties and monetary fines
  • To reduce the criminal speeding charge to a civil traffic violation
  • To have the charge dismissed

Ultimately, if you’ve been charged with criminal speeding in Arizona, having the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you get the best outcome possible. 

Defensive Driving School for Criminal Speeding in Arizona

One possible resolution to a criminal speeding charge in Arizona is the ability to argue in court to allow the case to be resolved by completing defensive driving school. To be eligible, you must not have taken DDS within the last year. What’s great about this option is that DDS will keep the criminal traffic ticket off your driving record.

However, unlike civil traffic tickets, it’s entirely at the discretion of the court whether someone with a criminal speeding case is eligible for DDS. For this reason, it can be beneficial to have the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer to argue to the court why you should be afforded the leniency of DDS.  

Find a Lawyer for Criminal Speeding in Arizona 

At Lerner & Rowe Law Group, we know how to handle all manners of criminal traffic offenses. We’ll review the specific facts of your case to create a defense specifically tailored to you. Contact Lerner & Rowe Law Group today to at 602-667-7777 to schedule your free consultation and to learn more about our affordable payment plans. You can also chat with one of our representatives online or submit a case form 24/7. 

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.