Arizona has three types of speeding laws: a "basic speeding law," "prima facie limits," and "absolute speed limits." This article explains the differences between the three and the consequences of a speeding violation.
Requires a safe speed. Arizona's basic speeding law prohibits driving at a speed "reasonable and prudent under the circumstances, conditions and actual and potential hazards then existing." In other words, motorists must always drive at a safe speed.
Depends on the conditions. What a safe speed is will depend on the circumstances. For instance, 55 miles per hour might be safe on a bright, sunny day. But if it's dark and the road is wet, going 55 miles per hour could be dangerous and a violation of the basic speeding law.
Arizona also uses prima facie speed limits (sometimes called "presumed" limits). Driving faster than a presumed limit creates a presumption that you've violated the basic speeding law. But exceeding a prima facie limit doesn't necessarily equate to guilt. You still have the opportunity to prove in court that your speed was safe. If you're able to do so, the judge is supposed to find you not guilty.
Unless otherwise posted, Arizona's prima facie speed limits include:
Presumed limits are normally indicated by signage.
There is no trick to how Arizona's absolute speed limits work: If the absolute speed limit is 50 miles per hour and you drive faster than that, you've violated the law.
Unless otherwise posted, Arizona's absolute speed limits prohibit motorists from driving faster than:
Most of the time, maximum speed limits are clearly posted.
The consequences of a speeding violation depend on the circumstances, including where the violation occurred and how fast the driver was going.
Normal speeding tickets. But a driver caught speeding is generally guilty of a civil traffic violation and looking at $150 to $500 in fines and fees. The exact amount typically depends on factors like speed, the county where the violation occurred, and whether there was an accident.
Fines are typically doubled for speeding violations committed in construction zones.
Aggravating circumstances (jail is possible). A speeding violation is a class 3 misdemeanor—a more serious offense—if the driver exceeded:
Class 3 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a maximum $500 in fines.
Typically, a speeding violation will add three points to a motorist's driving record. Accumulating too many points can lead to license suspension.
Depending on the circumstances, speeding could lead to a "reckless driving" conviction. And if a speeding violation results in the death of another person, vehicular homicide or manslaughter charges are possible.
Defenses to speeding tickets typically involve raising doubts about the accuracy of the officer's speed measurement. However, the circumstances of each case are different. So, if you're thinking of fighting a speeding ticket, it's a good idea to talk to an experienced traffic attorney about your situation.