Criminal Speeding

Phoenix & Scottsdale Criminal Speeding Attorney, Sheena Lemmons at Civil Rights Restored DUI & Criminal Law

Two police vehicles stop a sedan on a routine traffic stop

It comes as no surprise that criminal speeding, also known as excessive speeding, is one of the most common criminal traffic violations in Arizona. With over 4 million residents in Maricopa County, the state strictly enforces speed restrictions on its busy roads in an interest to reduce risk of harm.

Excessive speeding under A.R.S. 28-701.02 is a criminal offense, a class 3 misdemeanor. This is different from a civil speeding ticket under A.R.S. 28-701 for surpassing the reasonable and prudent speed or for traveling under the reasonable and prudent speed of travel.

Fortunately, at Civil Rights Restored, our Phoenix criminal speeding lawyer is prepared to defend your case with modern defense strategies.

If you or a loved one were charged with a criminal speeding ticket, Sheena Lemmons at Civil Rights Restored defends cases in Maricopa County including Phoenix, metro Phoenix area, Scottsdale, Tempe, Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Ahwatukee, Glendale, Avondale, and more.

Call us for a free consultation to get your case resolved.

What is Criminal Speeding in Arizona?

Criminal speed / excessive speed is defined in A.R.S. 28-701.02 (2022) as exceeding the posted speed limit by twenty (20) mph or exceeding thirty-five (35) mph in a school zone:

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 the posted speed limit by more than twenty miles per hour in other locations.

What are the Penalties of a Criminal Speeding Ticket in Arizona?

A conviction for a criminal speeding ticket is a class 3 misdemeanor. The possible maximum punishment for a class 3 misdemeanor under the 2021-2022 Arizona Supreme Court Criminal Code Sentencing Provisions is:

  • 30 days jail max
  • $500 fine, not including surcharges
  • 1 year probation max

As a misdemeanor, criminal speeding is probation eligible and it is not likely the court would impose a jail sentence for a first-offense, absent aggravating factors.

Although a class 3 misdemeanor is the lowest level of misdemeanor in the criminal code, a criminal speeding conviction can still have damaging consequences to commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders and for people who require a clean driving record for their employment.

Driver’s License Suspension / Criminal Speeding MVD Points Assessment

If you are convicted of criminal speeding in Arizona, the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) will assess points against your permanent driving record.

Speeding is worth three (3) points in Arizona, as of 2022.

If you accumulate eight (8) or more points in a twelve (12) month period, the MVD will suspend your driver’s license for up to a year, unless you attend Traffic Survival School (TSS).

Criminal Speeding Ticket Defenses in Arizona

At Civil Rights Restored, Phoenix DUI & Criminal Speeding Lawyer, our goal is to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. That means we will do what it takes to avoid a conviction, depending on your driving record and the circumstances of your case. We will aggressively fight for dismissal, your eligibility for criminal speeding diversion, reduced charges to a civil traffic violation, and work to mitigate the damages.

If the person charged is eligible for defensive driving school, a diversion program, this may offer the most favorable result for your case.

Defensive Driving Diversion Program for Criminal Speeding

There is a diversion program available for criminal speeding in Arizona called defensive driving school.

The benefit of completing defensive driving diversion for criminal speeding is that once completed, the criminal case will be dismissed and the MVD will not assess the three (3) points to the person’s driving record for speeding.

This is a very favorable result to avoid a class 3 misdemeanor conviction on a person’s record.

However, defensive driving school is only available for a criminal speeding charge at the discretion of the court. This means that the judge decides whether to allow the person to enter the program based on the facts and circumstances of their case. Therefore, there is no guarantee that the court will permit entry into a criminal speeding diversion program.

We understand how important it is to our clients to fight for the most beneficial results, and our Scottsdale criminal speeding attorney at Civil Rights Restored will strongly negotiate on your behalf.

Ready to Resolve Your Case?

Call our Scottsdale criminal speeding ticket attorney for a free consultation.

Eligibility to Attend Defensive Driving School in Arizona for a Criminal Speeding Ticket

There are several qualifying factors to consider regarding defensive driving diversion eligibility.

  • The person must not have previously taken defensive driving school within the last twelve (12) months.
  • A person who holds a CDL may enter the diversion program only if the person was driving a vehicle requiring a class D license or a class M license and the vehicle was not being used for commercial purposes.
    • A person who holds a CLD is not eligible for the defensive driving diversion program, but may be required to attend defensive driving school as a requirement of the sentence upon conviction.
  • The person did not commit a civil or criminal traffic violation resulting in death or serious physical injury.

Challenge the Criminal Speeding Ticket in Court

In some circumstances, it may be appropriate to challenge the criminal speeding ticket in court. Our skilled Phoenix criminal speeding lawyer will find the issues in your case and challenge the accuracy and reliability of the evidence against you.

If the state cannot prove criminal speeding beyond a reasonable doubt, the case against you may be dismissed altogether.

Methods of Measuring Speed

Police use several different methods of measuring the speed a vehicle is traveling. Three common methods in Arizona are pace, RADAR, and LIDAR, which are discussed below.


The officer will follow behind the motorist, “pacing” them by reading the officer’s own speedometer to estimate the speed the motorist is traveling.

There are several potential problems with the accuracy and reliability of pacing such as:

  • The distance between the officer and the motorist,
  • Whether the officer maintains a consistent distance between the vehicles,
  • The distance with which the officer paced the vehicle,
  • The light conditions at the time,
  • Road conditions at the location of the pace such as hills, curves, and obstacles.


Traffic officers often use RADAR devices, which stands for “radio detection and ranging,” to estimate speed. RADAR uses radio waves which reflect off of a moving object and back to the device’s receiver to provide a measurement estimating the speed of travel.

While RADAR devices are generally regarded as “reliable,” they are not immune to being challenged with regard to their accuracy. Potential problems that can lead to an inaccurate RADAR reading include:

  • Human error. The officer may not have operated the machine correctly,
  • Reliability differences in the type of unit used: car mounted vs. handheld RADAR gun,
  • Lack of Resolution. May occur where two moving targets are close together.
  • Poor weather conditions. Windy, dusty, and stormy conditions.
  • Calibration problems with the RADAR unit.


LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, is a laser speed detector. LIDAR is claimed to be more accurate than RADAR. It uses a low-power laser beam of light to reflect off of a moving target and back to the LIDAR’s receiver. The device calculates how long it takes light to travel from the device, to the moving vehicle, and back to the device and provides a measurement of speed.

The LIDAR’s laser is narrower than the RADAR radio waves, so it is easier to more accurately aim at the moving target. This makes it harder, but not impossible, for the device to pick up a vehicle moving next to the target vehicle and throw an inaccurate reading.

Operation of the LIDAR also has potential for problems of accuracy in the officer’s ability to aim the device correctly. For LIDAR to be accurate, it requires the user to point the laser at the same location on the moving object for the period in which the device is making its numerous measurements during the test. Otherwise, the results will not be accurate.

Where RADAR uses a wide radio wave, it is easier to aim. In contrast, LIDAR uses a narrow beam of light, which is more difficult to consistently aim at the same location on a moving object. Additionally, the laser is not visible to the officer, making it that much harder to tell if the devise was appropriately aimed.

Free Consultation

If you are ready to discuss solutions for your case, call Civil Rights Restored, Phoenix DUI & Criminal Speeding Ticket Attorney at (480) 759-7479.

Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Speeding in Arizona

What are the Possible Outcomes for a Criminal Speeding Ticket in Arizona?

Our goal is to help you avoid a class 3 misdemeanor conviction for criminal speeding. That can happen in a number of ways such as getting the case dismissed, by completion of the defensive driving diversion program, and negotiating a plea deal for reduced charges to a civil traffic ticket instead of a criminal charge. If circumstances do not allow for any of the above, then you have the choice of taking your case to trial and try for acquittal. You could also plead guilty to the court for the charges and pay the fines.

Do You Get Arrested for Criminal Speeding in Arizona?

It depends. The most common result is the police officer will cite and release the person instead of executing a formal arrest. This means the officer will write you a criminal speeding ticket, or a criminal traffic complaint, and release you with the promise that you agree to appear in court on the date indicated on the ticket.

However, formal arrests for criminal speed do occasionally occur, depending on the circumstances such as the rate of speed the person was going, the quality of the person’s interaction with the police officer, and any other relevant factors.

Does a Criminal Speeding Conviction Go on My Criminal Record?

Yes. In Arizona, a conviction for excessive speeding / criminal speeding is a class 3 misdemeanor. This means that the conviction will be searchable by anyone performing a background check. Arizona retains records of a person’s criminal history for their lifetime.

Do Your Insurance Rates Go Up for a Criminal Speeding Ticket in Arizona?

Yes, if you are convicted of excessive speeding your insurance company will likely raise your insurance premium rates. A conviction for criminal speeding goes on your Motor Vehicle Report (MVR), which your insurance company will review eventually and find the conviction.

Is Criminal Speeding a Felony in Arizona?

No, criminal speeding is a class 3 misdemeanor in Arizona. A class 3 is the lowest level in the criminal code.

How to Remove Criminal Speeding From My Record?

First, our goal is to prevent a conviction altogether and avoid this problem. However, if the circumstances present do not allow for the avoidance of a conviction, you do have some options.

  • Can a Criminal Speeding Ticket be Expunged in Arizona? No. Arizona does not offer expungement for a conviction for excessive speeding / criminal speeding.
  • Can a Criminal Speeding Ticket be Set Aside in Arizona? Yes, in most circumstances the conviction can be set aside. See our Set Aside a Conviction page for more information.

Can You Get a Speeding Ticket From a Photo Radar Device?

Yes, you can get a criminal speeding ticket from a photo radar camera if the device measures that your speed exceeds the posted speed limit by twenty (20) mph.

Out of State Criminal Speeding Ticket in Arizona

How do you deal with a criminal speeding ticket in Arizona if you live out of state? One option is you can hire a Phoenix criminal traffic attorney who will represent you in court. Your attorney will appear to any pretrial conferences (PTC) on your behalf. Most of the time, the defendant is not required to appear at a PTC. If the court does require your attendance, we will request the court to allow you to appear telephonically. There is no guarantee that the court will agree, but it is common that defendant’s physical presence will be waived in this situation.

Ready to Get This Criminal Speeding Ticket Resolved?

If you are ready to resolve your case, contact Sheena Lemmons, Phoenix & Scottsdale criminal speeding ticket lawyer today to start building your defense.

We are skilled in modern criminal defense strategies and will fight to get results for you.

Call us at (480) 759-7479 or use the contact form.

Let’s start fixing this together.

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