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What are Arizona Traffic Court Records?

Arizona traffic court records are legal documents and case files created from the proceedings of the traffic courts in Arizona. These include records related to criminal and civil traffic offenses and moving and non-moving violations under the Arizona Motor Vehicle Code.

Are Arizona Traffic Court Records Public Records?

Yes. Arizona traffic court records are public records, and as such, they are accessible to the public. The exception to the provisions for disclosure is if a judge or the law has purposely restricted access to a specific record.

Getting a Traffic Ticket in Arizona

An Arizona Traffic Ticket and Complaint citation is a ticket issued for Arizona traffic violations and infractions. It is a computer-generated long-form issued by law enforcement officers when an offender is deemed to have violated traffic laws, statutes, or ordinances. It represents the officer's sworn statement regarding his observation of the incident. The officer typically completes the form at the scene of the incident. It features the bio-data of the offender, including full name, date of birth, social security number, physical & mailing addresses (if different), and details of the license and vehicle involved. It will include information about the statute section violated and a description of the charges being levied against the offender. It will indicate the court in which you are to appear to respond to the citation. You may be expected to sign the ticket as an acceptance of the charges against you before receiving your copy, but no admission of guilt.

In Arizona, traffic violations can be designated as civil or criminal offenses, and each violation noted on the ticket is marked as such. Civil violations are minor traffic infractions, and resolution is usually restricted to fines and penalty points on the offender's driving record. Criminal violations are more serious moving violations, which can be considered misdemeanors and felonies. Convictions for criminal traffic violations are criminal convictions in the eyes of the law.

Traffic tickets in Arizona, whether civil or criminal, are associated with fines and can also come to include added penalties and court fees. A driving record points system is operated; as such, penalty points on your record are a possibility, especially with a conviction and which can lead to a license suspension or possible revocation by the Arizona Motor Vehicle Services (MVS). Fines are set by local statutes for civil offenses and can be found on the website of the court, but are usually determined by the judge for criminal offenses. Information about contesting the charge (civil or criminal) will also be included on the ticket.

Traffic violations are also differentiated as Moving and Non-Moving Violations. Non-moving violations are infractions that occur while the vehicle is not in motion, such as faulty vehicle equipment, while moving violations include all infractions and crimes committed while the car is moving,

What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Arizona?

Upon receipt of a traffic ticket in Arizona, the ideal course of action may depend on whether the citation is for a criminal or civil offense. When cited for a civil traffic violation, motorists may opt to do any of the following:

  • Accept responsibility and pay the traffic ticket.
  • Deny responsibility and contest charges.
  • Attend a Defensive Driving Course.

For motorists who choose to respond 'Responsible' and pay the fine, this may be considered a guilty plea and giving up their right to contest the charges. They may have to pay the stipulated fines, and penalty points may be added to their driving record based on the nature of their citation. You can pay your fines on the website of the designated court or by mail. You can obtain the fines amounts from the designated court website along with a form to mail to your payment. You can also appear on the court date noted on the ticket and pay at the court clerk's office. You will require your driver's license, citation number, and name as it appears on the citation to complete the process with all options. Civil fines are due in full by the scheduled court appearance date.

Contesting a Traffic Ticket in Arizona

When the alleged offender chooses to respond 'Not Responsible' and contests the charges, they will need to appear on the scheduled court date to enter their plea and request a hearing, or they may be able to download a form from the court website which they can fill and follow the instructions to mail in. The court will schedule your case for a hearing later, and the citing officer will tell the judge the reason for the citation. Charges against those deemed not responsible are dismissed. Those deemed responsible may be prescribed fines and penalties and added points to their driving record.

Failure to appear on your hearing date will result in a default judgment being given against you.

Offenders may request to enroll in a Defensive Driving Course, and upon completing the course and sending in proof of completion to the court, you may have the citation dismissed. They will be required to be eligible for a Defensive Driving course, complete the course, and send proof of completion before your scheduled court date. To be eligible for the course:

  • You must have not attended a defensive driving school in the last 12 months (based on violation date)
  • Your complaint does not involve an accident that resulted in any person's serious injury or death.
  • You do not possess a Commercial Driver's License (CDL).

If you are under 18, you may appear in court with a parent or guardian on or before the date and time listed on your complaint. Suppose you are cited for a criminal traffic violation. In that case, you may appear at the Justice Court listed on your ticket at the date and time specified or risk having a warrant issued for your arrest and having your license suspended.

  • Plead Guilty
  • Plead No Contest
  • Plead Not Guilty

A guilty plea is an acceptance of responsibility for the violation and all associated penalties, including fines, points on your driving record, suspension or restriction of your driving privileges, jail time (for some violations), community service, or Court-ordered education classes.

Under the No Contest plea, you are neither admitting nor denying the charges against you and are telling the court that you do not intend to contest the charges. The penalty may be the same as a guilty plea. The judge may consider an explanation before imposing a fine or penalty.

A Not-guilty plea indicates a decision to exercise your rights to contest the charges. You appear on the scheduled court date and enter your plea, and a trial date will be scheduled. It is advisable to have professional representation. If you are found Not Guilty at your trial, then all charges will be dismissed. If you are found guilty, then you will be liable for penalties and fines imposed, and points will be added to your driving record.

How Do I Find Arizona Traffic Court Records?

Traffic court records in Arizona may be found on the county court's website or third-party websites such as Members of the public may request physical access at the office of the court's clerk, who is charged with custody of all such records. A physical visit has to be made, and the request should be filed in person. If granted, you will be able to view the records; there is a possibility a fee will be required.

Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties may provide:

  • The name of someone involved, provided it is not a juvenile
  • The assumed location of the record in question, such as a city, county, or state name

Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.

What Information is Required to Obtain Arizona Traffic Court Records?

Persons interested in obtaining traffic court records are required provide pertinent details about the required traffic court records, including the person's full name, social security number, and date of birth so the records can be located. If there is a need, payments can be made by the requesting party to enable the processing and delivery of the records. A valid ID for verification should be presented by the person receiving the records beforehand.

Are all Traffic Violations Handled the Same Way in Arizona?

Civil traffic violations are handled differently from criminal traffic violations. Still, despite the offense in the citation, most civil traffic violations are handled the same way, and all criminal traffic violations are handled the same way.

Can Arizona Traffic Records Be Sealed or Expunged?

In Arizona, there is no expungement law, but it is possible to have misdemeanors and felony convictions "set aside". This does not remove the charge or conviction from your record, but it will inform all who enquire that a court has vacated your conviction and the charges were dismissed. To be eligible to set your convictions aside, you should not have been involved in an offense involving a deadly weapon or resulting in serious physical injury. You should not have committed the violation on a suspended license.

If you were wrongfully arrested or charged and acquitted, you can petition the courts to enter on your record that you have been cleared of all charges. Your arrest record will not be given to any person based on a judge's instructions.

How Does One End Up in An Arizona State Traffic court?

Receipt of a traffic citation in Arizona will result in a visit to a traffic court if the offense is indicated to be a criminal offense. You will need to show up in court to respond to the charges. This occurs when the offense is deemed to be a misdemeanor or a felony.

You can also end up in traffic court if the officer indicates the charges are civil offenses, but you wish to plead Not Responsible for the charges and contest the ticket.

Which Courts in Arizona Have Jurisdiction to Hear Traffic Violation Matters?

In Arizona, civil and criminal traffic case hearings are assigned to the justice courts of the precincts where the offense was alleged to have occurred, and they are presided over by the Justice of the Peace. Criminal traffic cases deemed misdemeanors or felonies can also be heard by the municipal district court of the location of the incident.

How to Prepare for Traffic Court in Arizona

To prepare for traffic court in Arizona, begin by familiarizing yourself with the traffic laws relevant to your citation. Research the potential penalties associated with your violation and any possible defenses you might have. Consider seeking legal advice from a traffic attorney who understands Arizona's legal system.

Arizona Traffic Court Records
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