The crime of “Criminal Speed” (aka Excessive Speed), which is defined in A.R.S. § 28-701.02, is a class 3 misdemeanor offense in Arizona. 

Criminal speeding in Arizona is not a typical speeding ticket. The Arizona legislature has made it a crime to speed in certain instances; those instances are defined in the criminal speed statute.  Many people confuse the ticket they receive when cited for criminal speed as a civil speed violation, or one that they can pay a fine for and then it goes away. This is not the case.

A criminal speeding ticket is more serious and has lasting consequences for your criminal record (a misdemeanor conviction) and driver’s license record (points, insurance increases) if not handled correctly.

What is Criminal Speeding in Arizona?

what is criminal speeding in arizona

In Arizona, you can be charged with the crime of criminal speeding under A.R.S. § 28-701.02, if you: approach a school crossing zone traveling above 35 mph; exceed the posted speed limit by 20 mph in a business or residential area; or if you travel above 85 mph in the state of Arizona.

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Note: If you have been charged with criminal speeding, you should contact an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and to ensure that your rights are protected.

Arizona Criminal Speeding: Defined under A.R.S. § 28-701.02

Arizona’s Criminal Speed statute, A.R.S. § 28-701.02, states:

“A person shall not:

  1. Exceed thirty-five miles per hour approaching a school crossing.
  2. Exceed the posted speed limit in a business or residential district by more than twenty miles per hour, or if no speed limit is posted, exceed forty-five miles per hour.
  3. Exceed eighty-five miles per hour in other locations.”

What does it mean to “exceed” the speed limit?

Typically, to be cited for a criminal speed violation, a person must exceed, or travel over the posted speed limit or the speed limits described in the statute. 

Example #1: Defendant #1 is traveling at 84 mph on the I-10; Defendant #2 is traveling at 87 mph in the lane next to Defendant #1 on the I-10.  Defendant #1 is traveling below 85 mph, which is not a violation of A.R.S. § 28-701.02(3), although law enforcement may cite Defendant #1 with a civil speed violation.  Defendant #2 is exceeding (or traveling over) 85 mph, which is a violation of A.R.S. § 28-701.02(3), so he can be cited with Criminal Speed. 

Example #2:  Defendant is traveling at 67 mph in a posted 45 mph business district.  Defendant is traveling 22 mph over the posted speed limit of 45 mph.  This is a violation of A.R.S. § 28-701.02(2) because he is traveling more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit so he can be cited with Criminal Speed.

What is an “other location” in Arizona?

While, “other location” is not defined in the Excessive Speed statute, generally, “other locations” are associated with all non-residential, non-business, and non-school zone areas.  Such areas include highways and freeways and roads not located in a residential, business or school zone.  If you are on the I-10, Hunt Hwy, the 101, 202, 303, or the SR-51—these are all considered other locations.   

Example:  A defendant is traveling at 98 mph while on the northbound SR-51.  The defendant is exceeding 85 mph in an “other location,” here the SR-51 highway.  This is a violation of A.R.S. § 28-701.02(3) so the defendant can be cited with Criminal Speed.

Penalties for Criminal Speeding ARS 28-701.02

The penalties for a criminal speed conviction can include:

  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • A fine up to $500 with a surcharge
  • Up to 1 year of probation
  • Other: Points assessed against your driver’s license (3 points) and possible insurance rate increases

Typically, most people facing a criminal speed citation are looking at a fine and points assessed against their license. 

How many points is criminal speeding in Arizona?

In Arizona, criminal speeding adds 3 points to your driver’s license. If you accumulate 8 points within 12 months, you are required to attend traffic school, and if you accumulate 12 points within one year, your license can be suspended.

Facing Criminal Charges in Arizona?

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Defenses to Criminal Speed

  • Lack of Evidence – The state has the burden of proving all crimes “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  There are many ways to show that the state’s evidence is deficient and that it cannot prove you were criminally speeding—for instance, if the officer who stopped you is no longer around and cannot be tracked down—there may not be a witness; if the officer who stopped you did not actually see you traveling above the speed limit because another officer or person called 911 and that person is not available—there may not be any firsthand knowledge of the conduct; if the officer who stopped you suggests a version of events that is implausible or contradicted by a witness or a patrol vehicle’s on-board computer GPS system (known as AVL data)—it may create doubt about what actually happened, which could improve your case.
  • Constitutional violations – If law enforcement violated your rights in any way, for instance, if you were not exceeding the speed limit at all, but the officer stopped you and cited you anyways, the officer did not have a constitutional reason to stop your vehicle or cite you.  In that case, we may be able to use AVL data, dash camera footage, or a witness’s version of events to challenge the stop to prove your innocence. 

Will a criminal speeding conviction appear on my permanent record in Arizona?

Yes, a criminal speeding conviction in Arizona will appear on your permanent criminal record, since in Arizona, it is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor. The only relief from a criminal speeding conviction in Arizona is to seek a “set-aside” (similar to expungement in other states), which can help mitigate some of the long-term consequences.

How Salwin Law Group Can Help You Fight a Criminal Speed Charge

If you’ve been charged with Criminal Speed (aka Excessive Speed) under A.R.S. § 28-701.02, it’s important that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Stewart Salwin will fight to get your charge lowered or dismissed.  He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former felony prosecutor, and he knows how the prosecution thinks and what will convince them to get you a favorable resolution.  We offer a free initial consultation.  Give us a call at (480) 702-1789 or contact us online, and we can develop a defense strategy with you today.