Criminal Speeding in Arizona: FAQ

Criminal speeding.

Criminal Speeding in Arizona: FAQ

Many traffic offenses in Arizona are civil charges, meaning they can result in fines, points assessed against your driving record, traffic school, and insurance premium increases. Civil charges will not result in jail or convictions on your criminal record. However, driving in excessive speeds, known are criminal speeding, will result in serious criminal charges that can impact both your driving record and criminal record.

What is Criminal Speeding?

Pursuant to A.R.S. 28-701.02, criminal speed (excessive speed) is:

  • Exceeding 35 mph approaching a school zone.
  • Exceeding the posted speed limit by over 20 mph in a business or residential district or in any other location.
  • Exceeding 45 mph in areas where no speed limit is posted.

Is Exceeding 85 mph Considered Criminal Speeding?

Past Arizona law considered driving in excess of 85mph anywhere within the state to be considered criminal speeding. However, this was amended in 2021 and is no longer included in Arizona statute. The only circumstances that constitute criminal speeding are those listed above.

What are the Charges and Penalties for Criminal Speeding?

Criminal speeding is a class 3 misdemeanor. This can result in incarceration of up to 30 days and a fine up to $500. A year of probation may also be required.

However, most judges will not order jail for a first-time offender.

A criminal speeding conviction will become a part of the offender’s permanent criminal record, like any other criminal charge.

What Happens to My License and Driving Record?

Traffic infractions will cause the Arizona Department of Transportation to assess points against the offender’s permanent driving record. Accumulating 8 or more points within a year will cause a driver’s driving privileges to be suspended for up to one year.

Speeding will result in 3 points being assessed, regardless of whether the speeding ticket was civil or criminal.

Can I Take Defensive Driving School for Criminal Speeding?

Defensive Driving School is typically only offered for civil traffic infractions. A judge will only order it in certain rare cases for criminal traffic violations, such as criminal speeding. Pursuant to A.R.S. 28-3392, a judge will not order Defensive Driving School if:

  • The driver previously took Defensive Driving School for another traffic offense within the past 12 months.
  • The criminal speeding resulted in death or serious physical injury, unless the Defensive Driving School is ordered alongside additional sentence judgements.

The upside of attending Defensive Driving School, if allowed by the court, is that its successful completion results in charges being dropped.

Do I Need an Attorney for a Criminal Speeding Ticket?

Criminal traffic tickets have much more serious consequences compared to civil traffic tickets. They should be handled with the same consideration as any other criminal charge. Hiring a defense attorney is the best way to obtain the most favorable outcome for your case. The benefits include:

  • The possibility that your attorney may be able to appear in court on your behalf.
  • The possibility that your criminal speeding charge can be reduced to a civil traffic violation.
  • Favorable negotiations between your defense attorney and the prosecution.
  • The possible reduction of monetary penalties (fines).
  • The possibility to allow Defensive Driving School in lieu of harsher sentencing.
  • The possible dismissal of the charge altogether.



With offices in Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale, our firm serves the entire state of Arizona, with a particular focus on criminal defense, family law, and juvenile cases.

Our goal is for the best outcome for your criminal case, which can include:

  • charges that are reduced or dropped.
  • top experts reviewing your case.
  • aggressive negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains.
  • fines or probation in lieu of jail time.

At Rideout Law Group, our attorneys are able to expertly examine the evidence in your case to provide a strong strategy for argument that leads to an outcome that is most favorable to you. We have experience in all types of criminal cases for both adults and juveniles, with positive outcomes both in plea negotiations as well as jury trial settings.

Call us today for a free consultation at 480-584-3328.

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