Why Was My Arizona Speeding Ticket Charged as a Misdemeanor?

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Arizona is one of a few states that criminalize speeding. It is a criminal misdemeanor to drive more than 20 miles per hour above the posted limit (60 mph in a 40 mph zone). Going faster than 85 mph – even if on the highway or interstate – can also result in a misdemeanor charge.

These bright line rules can bring harsh results. For example, driving 19 mph over a posted speed limit is a regular civil traffic citation, but 20 mph over and you need to appear in criminal court in front of a judge.

Defensive Driving School

We frequently obtain positive results for clients that minimize the consequences of these excessive speeding tickets. A motion requesting defensive driving school may be an option to get the case dismissed. In other cases, it might be possible for us to amend the excessive speed charge to a civil traffic citation with a fine.   

Evidentiary Rules and Standard of Proof

Because these cases are criminal, stiffer rules of evidentiary procedure apply as well as a higher standard of proof to show guilt – beyond a reasonable doubt.

Law enforcement officers use different techniques to determine how fast you are going. The most basic is maintaining equal distance between two vehicles, but this pace method is prone to human error.

Common technology includes speed guns that use:

  • Radar, which works by bouncing radio waves off a vehicle and calculating speed based on changes of returning signals – these devices come with a tuning fork that needs to be tested before each shift
  • LIDAR (an acronym for LIght Detection And Ranging), which calculates speed using infrared pulses of light.

If either of these devices is not properly calibrated, they can provide questionable results. Testing and calibration become important issues.

We can take these cases to trial, if necessary, to question the accuracy of evidence collected against you. Our experience defending clients accused of all types of criminal charges becomes invaluable if you are facing an excessive speed criminal charge.


Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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