The Difference Between Criminal and Noncriminal Traffic Offenses

Traffic offenses in Arizona can be classified as criminal or noncriminal. The distinction will depend on the nature and severity of the offense, such as if it endangered lives. In Arizona, criminal traffic offenses are frequently penalized harshly to discourage repeat offenders. Whether you are facing criminal charges or a noncriminal traffic ticket for an offense in Arizona, the attorneys at Corso Law Group can help.

Criminal vs. Noncriminal Traffic Offenses in Arizona 

A driver could face a noncriminal moving violation in Arizona for breaking a traffic law, such as exceeding the posted speed limit, running a red light or failing to yield the right-of-way. In this situation, a law enforcement officer may conduct a traffic stop and issue a ticket or citation for the noncriminal offense. Typically, the penalties include paying a fine and receiving points against the driver’s license. If the driver accumulates too many points in a certain amount of time, his or her license could be suspended or revoked. 

A criminal traffic offense, on the other hand, crosses the line from a simple moving violation to reckless disregard for the safety of others or intent to commit a crime. A driver could be arrested and face criminal charges for this more serious type of traffic violation in Arizona. Criminal traffic offenses are punished much more harshly than common civil traffic violations, and can even reach the degree of felony crimes that come with prison time. A criminal traffic offense will permanently go on a driver’s criminal record.

Examples of Criminal Traffic Violations in Arizona

Criminal traffic violations in Arizona are prosecuted in the criminal courts rather than the civil or traffic courts. In general, criminal charges can be brought against a driver for a moving violation if it caused or threatened to cause serious harm to others. The criminal designation is reserved for severe traffic offenses, such as:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Criminal speeding
  • Speeding in a school zone
  • Reckless driving or reckless endangerment
  • Racing on highways
  • Driving without a valid license
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident without stopping (hit-and-run)
  • Law enforcement officer evasion
  • Aggravated assault using a deadly weapon
  • Vehicular manslaughter or homicide

Being convicted of a criminal traffic offense in Arizona requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was guilty of reckless or intentional behavior behind the wheel that posed a substantial risk to public safety. A driver can also be convicted of a criminal traffic offense if his or her behavior displayed a wanton disregard for the safety of others.

Navigating the Criminal Process

If you get arrested for an alleged criminal traffic offense in Arizona, it is crucial to contact a traffic violations attorney in Scottsdale right away. An attorney can craft a legal strategy in your defense to potentially protect you from a criminal conviction and severe penalties. Your lawyer can guide you through the criminal justice process from start to finish to ensure that you are treated fairly.


If you are ticketed for a noncriminal traffic violation in Arizona, an attorney can still help by representing you in traffic court. Your lawyer can attend hearings on your behalf and present evidence or witnesses to try to minimize the administrative penalties that you face, such as points on your driver’s license. For more information about how a criminal defense lawyer can help you with a traffic offense case, request a free consultation at Corso Law Group.

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