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Arizona Traffic Ticket Fines & Penalties
If you've recently received a traffic ticket in Arizona, we feel your pain! It's a lousy feeling – knowing that just one momentary lapse in judgment is now going to cost you a good deal of money in the short- and long-term future. For most drivers, the first things they wonder are: what are the Arizona traffic ticket fines and penalties, and how much money am I going to have to shell out? How high will my insurance rates go? Can I get rid of this thing?
Arizona traffic tickets are split into two different types – civil and criminal. Civil traffic violations are those that are considered your "typical" moving violations. Each of these carries a certain amount of points that will be assessed to your record, and these points determine the severity of your fine and the rate at which your insurance rates will rise. Some of these more common tickets include:
- Speeding (3 points)
- Running a red light or stop sign (4 points)
- Failure to yield (4 points)
The amount that you will pay in fees for your minor moving citation varies from court to court, so there is no standard amount that you can expect to pay. Someone in Phoenix will pay a different amount for speeding than someone in Flagstaff or Tucson. But generally for your first offense, your fine won't be too exorbitant. It's only when you start displaying habitual disregard for the law that you'll begin to pay some truly hefty fines.
Criminal violations include both misdemeanors and felonies. Within this category falls DUI, reckless driving, aggressive driving, and committing aggravated vehicular battery or vehicular homicide. The fines and penalties for these types of convictions are incredibly higher than your average speeding ticket.
For example, if you are convicted of a first-time DUI offense, you are looking at a fine of no less than $1,250. If you commit a DUI infraction a second time, your fine more than doubles to no less than $3,000. And if you truly cannot keep yourself from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, and you commit what's known as an "Extreme DUI," you will be thrown in jail for 30-120 days, and fined $2,500-3,000. You will also be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
In addition to your basic fines and fees that you will have to pay, you may also be facing license suspension. If this isn't your first traffic ticket, and you've received a total of 8 points within 12 months, you're looking at the immediate loss of your license for a court-designated period of time. Some traffic violations, such as DUI and reckless driving, carry a point total of 8 themselves, so your first violation is also your last.
You can also expect your insurance to go up. Auto insurance rates in Arizona, much like other states in the nation, are determined by how well you drive and how clean your record is. As soon as points hit your record, you can expect your premium to rise by a good percentage. That means you'll be paying extra in the long-term as well as suffer the short-term cost of your citation.
One of the best ways to avoid paying high ticket fines and insurance rates is to take a defensive driving course. Arizona allows residents to enroll in a Supreme Court-approved defensive driving program to dismiss a ticket and its fine, or prevent the points from hitting their license. You will refresh your basic skills and defensive driving techniques, and many courses are now taught online, so that you don't have to sit in a class and read through a driver's handbook.
This course can also be required as part of a DUI or aggressive driving conviction. Usually the defensive driving course will prevent the ticket from being reported to your insurance company, so that your rates won't rise; similarly, taking the course voluntarily can help you earn a discount on your existing insurance rate.