As a driver, it is your responsibility to obey every roadway rule and traffic law set in place in Arizona. Breaking even a minor traffic law is an infraction that could lead to fines or stiffer penalties, such as criminal charges. The two types of traffic offenses in Arizona are parking and moving violations. Both have unique consequences for you as a driver, including potential demerit points against your driver’s license. Understanding how moving violations work in Arizona, as well as how they may affect your record, could help you stay out of trouble.
What Is a Moving Violation?
Moving violations are more serious than parking violations. A moving violation could equal civil or criminal penalties, while most parking violations are only civil infractions. You can commit a moving violation without facing criminal charges or penalties, however. You may not, for example, face jail time for a traffic violation such as speeding (except in unique cases). Instead, most moving violations come with civil consequences only, such as having to pay a fine or receive points against your license. Civil violations will not end up on your permanent criminal record.
A moving violation could escalate to a criminal charge, however, if it is serious enough to constitute reckless driving or it breaks another state law. Examples include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding in a school zone, driving without insurance, driving on a suspended license, committing reckless endangerment, or committing vehicular manslaughter. Criminal violations for traffic infractions in Arizona could result in misdemeanor or felony charges, along with serious penalties such as jail time.
Examples of Moving Violations in Arizona
Moving violations refer to traffic offenses a driver commits while the vehicle is moving, rather than stopped or parked. You could commit a moving violation for breaking any of Arizona’s traffic laws, from posted speed limits to rights-of-way rules at intersections. Different moving violations result in different amounts of points against your driver’s license.
- Following too closely (two points)
- Speeding (three points)
- Failing to stop at a traffic signal (four to six points)
- Failing to yield the right-of-way (four to six points)
- Leaving the scene of an accident (six points)
- Any moving violation that causes a fatality (six points)
- Driving under the influence (eight points)
- Reckless or aggressive driving (eight points)
The point system in Arizona serves to hold drivers accountable for breaking roadway rules. Accumulating eight or more points within one year will result in driver’s license suspension up to 12 months, as well as attending mandatory Traffic Survival School. It may be possible to reduce the points against your license after a moving violation by attending traffic school or taking other steps. Otherwise, they will accrue on your record throughout the year.
How Long Do They Stay on Your Record?
You may be able to erase a civil moving violation from your record immediately by completing an approved defensive driving school course, if the judge permits. This would prevent the demerits from ever affecting your record and insurance payments. You may also have to pay a license reinstatement fee, traffic penalties and the increased costs of SR-22 insurance to remove the points. Otherwise, the points assessed against your record will remain for 12 months. Criminal convictions for moving violations, on the other hand, will become part of your permanent record unless you qualify for record expungement.
Penalties for Moving Violations
Committing a civil moving violation will result in points against your driving record, a mandatory fine and higher insurance premiums. The amount of the fine will depend on the seriousness of the infraction. Committing a criminal moving violation can result in heftier penalties. Committing the crime of drunk driving, for example, comes with 24 hours to 90 days in jail, $250 to $750 in fines, 90 days to 1 year of license suspension and a required ignition interlock device. The penalties for a criminal moving violation varies according to the crime. For assistance with a civil or criminal moving violation in Arizona, contact an attorney.