Wrong-Way Driving in Arizona

Wrong way drivers can be charged with a felony, with more severe sentences depending on the severity of the crash.

Wrong-Way Driving in Arizona

Wrong-way drivers are an extreme hazard to anyone out on the roads. Often occurring when a driver misunderstands entrance ramp or lane direction signs, drivers travelling in the opposite direction of traffic that a lane is intended for can cause devastating head-on crashes.

Wrong-way drivers have been an ever-increasing issue in Arizona, particularly on the complex freeway systems in the metro-Phoenix area. In October 2023, a section of the I-17 in North Phoenix was shut down after a wrong-way driver caused a deadly crash.


Legal Ramifications of Wrong-Way Driving

According to A.R.S. 28-694, anyone who drives the wrong way on a controlled access highway commits wrong-way driving as a civil offense. (Read about civil traffic tickets here.) Violators must attend Traffic Survival School and pay a penalty of $500.

However, a driver can be charged with a class 4 felony if they are found to be driving the wrong way while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, per A.R.S. 28-1383 and thanks to House Bill 2243 enacted in 2018. Aggravated driving charges can expose an individual to additional jail time in addition to fines and fees that are associated with standard DUI’s.


Additional Outcomes: As Seen in the News

Wrong-way driving collisions can result in even more serious outcomes and sentences depending on the outcome of the crash. For example, in 2022, a Phoenix bartender was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 11.5 years in prison for causing the deaths of the victims he drove into. In 2022, a Yavapai County man was sentenced to 30 years in prison after a fatal wrong-way crash killed two girls, leading to convictions of manslaughter, aggravated DUI, and endangerment.


Safety in Wrong-Way Driving Situations

In an effort to address the threat that wrong-way driving imposes, the Arizona Department of Transportation launched the “Drive Aware, Get There” campaign. ADOT recognizes that wrong-way crashes are often caused by drivers who are driving while distracted, impaired, or recklessly.

To help decrease the number of wrong-way crashes, newer “Wrong Way” and “Do Not Enter” signs were installed on freeways in addition to thermal detection cameras to catch drivers travelling the wrong direction and alert law enforcement.

If you encounter a wrong-way driver, ADOT recommends slowing down, moving to avoid the vehicle, pull over, and call 911 to report the wrong-way driver. If you see an ADOT billboard alerting to a wrong-way driver, exit the freeway as soon as possible.




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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