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What are Arizona Traffic Court Records?
Traffic court records are legal documents and case files created from the proceedings of the traffic courts in the state of Arizona. These include records related to criminal and civil traffic offenses and moving and non-moving violations under the motor vehicle code of the state of Arizona.
Are Arizona Traffic Court Records Public Records?
Arizona traffic court records are public records, and as such, are guaranteed under the public access to information law, that as public records members of the public will be able to access and view these records when they choose to; the only exception to this being if a judge or the law has purposely restricted access to particular records.
Getting a Traffic Ticket in Arizona
An Arizona Traffic Ticket and Complaint citation is a ticket issued for traffic offenses in the state of Arizona. 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 sworn statement of the officer regarding his observation of the incident. The form will be completed by the officer at the scene. It will show 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 along with 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 will be expected to sign the ticket as an acceptance of the charges against 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 can 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?
Your course of action upon receipt of a traffic ticket in Arizona will depend on whether the citation is for a criminal or civil offense. If you are cited for a civil traffic violation, you can
- Accept responsibility and pay fine.
- Deny responsibility and contest charges.
- Attend a Defensive Driving Course.
If you choose to respond Responsible and pay the fine, this will be viewed as a guilty plea in the eyes of the law and you will be seen to have given up your rights to contest the charges. You will be liable for all stipulated fines and penalty points will be added to your driving record based on the nature of your citation. You can pay your fines on the website of the designated court or by mail. You can obtain the amounts for the fines from the website of the designated court along with a form for mailing in 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.
If you choose to respond Not Responsible and wish to contest the charges, you will need to appear on the scheduled court date to enter your plea and request a hearing or you may be able to download a form from the court website which you can fill and follow the instructions to mail in. The court will schedule your case for a hearing at a later date where the citing officer will tell the judge why you were cited and you can defend your actions. If you are deemed to be not responsible then charges against you will be dismissed. If you are deemed to be responsible, then you are liable for all fines and penalties and will have points added to your driving record.
Failure to appear on your hearing date will result in a default judgment being given against you.
You can request to enroll in a Defensive Driving Course and upon completing the course and sending in proof of completion to the court; you will have the citation dismissed. You must be eligible for a Defensive Driving course and must complete the course and send proof and 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 a serious injury or death of any person.
- You do not possess a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
If you are under age 18, you must appear in court with a parent or guardian on or before the date and time listed on your complaint. If you are cited for a criminal traffic violation you must appear at the Justice Court listed on your ticket at the date and time specified or risk having a warrant issued for your arrest, in addition to a suspension of your license.
- Upon appearing before the judge, you can
- Plead Guilty
- Plead No Contest
- Plead Not Guilty
A guilty plea is an acceptance of responsibility for the violation and all associated penalties which can include 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 date will be scheduled for your trial. 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 you will have points 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 courtrecords.org. Members of the public may request for 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 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 must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a 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?
For persons interested in obtaining traffic court records, they must provide pertinent details about the traffic court records required including the full name of the person, social security number and date of birth, so the records can be located. If there is a need, there can be payments to be made by the requesting party to enable the processing and delivery of the records. A valid ID for verification must 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 but mostly all civil traffic violations are handled the same way and all criminal traffic violations are handled the same way, despite the offense in the citation.
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 your conviction has been vacated by a court and the charges were dismissed. To be eligible to have your convictions set aside you must not have been involved in an offense that involves a deadly weapon or resulted in serious physical injury and you must not have committed the violation on a suspended license.
If you were wrongfully arrested or other charged and acquitted, then you can petition the courts to enter on your record that you have been cleared of all charges and 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 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 deemed to be a misdemeanor or a felony.
You can also end up in traffic court if the officer indicated 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 for hearing to the Justice courts of the precincts where the offense was alleged to have occurred and are presided over by the Justice of the Peace. Criminal traffic cases that are deemed to be misdemeanors or felonies can also be heard by the municipal district court of the location of the incident.