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Civil Offenses
Civil Traffic Charges
Civil traffic charges are violations of the State of Arizona Revised Statutes. Examples of such charges are as follows:
  • Failure to Produce Proof of Insurance
  • Failure to Provide A Driver License
  • Failure to Stop for a Stop Sign
  • Running a Red Light
  • Speeding

If your traffic charge is marked as a civil violation, you are entitled to a hearing if you choose to plead not responsible. This is similar to a trial but there will be no prosecutor present to represent the state. Instead, a judge may ask you, the police officer and other witnesses questions to find out what happened. You will have an opportunity to ask questions of the witnesses when it is your turn to present your defense. You may testify on your own behalf as part of your defense. You may present to the court documents and other prepared exhibits as evidence that support your position. The judge will rule on the testimony and other evidence presented based on a preponderance of the evidence, which means the state must prove that, more likely than not, you committed the violation.

To find you responsible, the judge must consider the testimony and other evidence presented at the hearing and decide whether it is more probable than not that you committed the traffic violation charged. In a civil traffic hearing, the burden of proof required for a Judge to make a finding of responsible is less than at a criminal trial.

If You Received a Traffic Complaint
The Arizona Traffic Ticket and Complaint you received includes a court date and time. By the time of your court appearance you will need to decide how you want to plead to your charge(s). If you received a complaint containing more than one charge, you will need to enter a plea for each charge. You are not required to enter the same plea for each charge.

There are three possible pleas you may enter:
  • Responsible / Guilty: This plea means that you admit to having committed the charge.
  • Admit and Explain / No Contest: This plea means that you do not wish to contest the charge and you are allowing a hearing officer or judge to enter a ruling that has the same consequence as a Responsible / Guilty plea without you admitting your responsibility / guilt. You will be given an opportunity to explain what happened before sentence is imposed, just as you would with a Responsible / Guilty plea.
  • Not Responsible / Not Guilty: This plea means that you deny that you committed the violation and that you wish to contest the charge. The state must then attempt to prove the charge against you at a hearing or trial.

Once you have decided upon your plea, you have the following options:
  • If your plea is Responsible / Guilty or Admit and Explain / No Contest, you may:
    • Pay, by mail or in person, the amount of the sanction/fine and the applicable fees as listed on the information envelope on or before your court date, unless otherwise stated on the information envelope given to you by the police officer.
    • Appear in court on your assigned court date to see a Judge and enter your plea of Responsible / Guilty or Admit and Explain / No Contest and the judge will determine a sanction / fine at that time.
  • If your plea is Not Responsible / Not Guilty, you may:
    • Request, by mail or fax, that the charge be set for a hearing / trial. Your request for a hearing must be received by the court before the date of your first scheduled court appearance.
    • Appear in court on your assigned date to see a Judge to have your charge set for hearing / trial.

Defensive Driving Program
For many civil traffic charges, and a few minor criminal traffic charges, you also have the option of attending a Defensive Driving Program if you are eligible, and after completion of the program the charge will be dismissed. If you have attended a defensive driving class for an Arizona charge issued within the last 24 months, you are not eligible for this option. If you have been cited for more than one charge on your complaint, only one can be dismissed by attending the Defensive Driving Program. You will have to enter a plea on any other charges.

Not all charges are eligible for this program. The envelope you received from the police officer will tell you if the code with which you have been cited is eligible, and provide other eligibility and registration information.


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