Common Civil Traffic Violations
Fighting a Civil Traffic Ticket
If you decide to fight your civil traffic ticket, you must request a civil traffic hearing. At the hearing, the citing officer will appear and tell his story to the judge, and you will also have an opportunity to explain your version of events and question the citing officer. If you choose to hire an attorney, you are generally required to notify the court at least 10 days before your hearing that you will be represented by an attorney.
What makes fighting civil traffic tickets difficult is the low burden of proof for the State. In a civil traffic case, the burden of proof for the state is “by a preponderance of evidence.” In other words, if the judge believes that is was “more likely than not” that you committed the alleged violation, the judge will find you responsible. This falls far short of the burden in criminal cases, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” A judge does not need to be certain you committed the violation, but rather the judge just needs to believe that there was a greater than 50% chance that you committed the violation.
Defensive Driving School
Arizona has a program called Defensive Driving Diversion or Defensive Driving School that may be used to resolve most moving civil traffic violations. This is a 4-hour class that may be completed in person or online, and upon completion the class, the court will dismiss the violation. If you are eligible for defensive driving, this will almost always be the best resolution. Read more about Defensive Driving School here.
Almost all civil traffic violations carry a fine of some sort if you are found responsible. Some fines are minor, such as fines as low as $50 for some expired registration violations, to fines of more than $1,000 for no insurance violations. Most courts will set up a payment plan if you cannot pay your fine all at once. If you fail to pay the fine, the court will issue an order to suspend your driver license until the fine is paid.
If you have a commercial driver license or are otherwise not eligible for defensive driving, it may make sense to engage an attorney to help fight your civil traffic violation. If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys about your options, please give us a call, or send us an email.