What is a Civil Traffic Hearing in Arizona?

A civil traffic hearing is an informal hearing that is scheduled any time that you, or your attorney, which to contest a civil traffic infraction that has been alleged against you. These are most common when people are challenging a number of civil violations, including:

  • Civil speeding violations
  • Red light tickets
  • No proof of insurance / registration
  • Unsafe lane change
  • Equipment violations (license plate covers)
  • Wide turns
  • Following too close
  • Many other violations

Our team is trained to identify complex legal issues that are required in every hearing, but if you choose to represent yourself in the hearing, the following will explain the process.

At the hearing, the officer is required to appear in court to testify against you and explain why he or she wrote you the citation. The officer will receive a formal summons, or order, from the court and tells them where and when to appear. You must also appear at the hearing. If you do not appear, you automatically lose your case and the court will enter what is called a default judgment against you. This means that you lose your case automatically. When a default judgment is entered against you, your license will be suspended and your fines increase dramatically. Your license will remain suspended until you pay your fines in full. Accordingly, it is important that you appear.

Once all parties are ready and have been sworn in by the Judge or the hearing officer, the officer will testify first. The officer has to discuss key elements of your case, including describing the location of the offense, the date and time of the violation, and the nature of the violation itself. If the officer misses these elements, then the officer has not brought forth a sufficient complaint.

When the officer is finished testifying, you have the opportunity to ask the individual questions. For example, if it was a speeding case, you will likely want to ask about the weather conditions, the safety hazards in the roadway, questions regarding the officer’s calibration records and training and experience. During this questioning, it is not a time for you to state your side of the story. Instead, this is only for questions relating to the officer’s testimony.

When you are finished with your questions, it will be time for you to give your side of the story to Judge. You can discuss all facts that believe to be relevant to your case, including whether you were in control of your vehicle, whether there were abnormal conditions in the roadway, your driving record, and other factors.

The Judge may have clarifying questions for either you or the officer, and may ask those questions as this is an informal hearing.

After the conclusion of testimony, the Judge will decide the case based on the standard of “preponderance of the evidence.” This is standard that the state must reach, and means that you will be found responsible if the Judge believes that it is more likely than not that there was an infraction committed. If the Judge believes that it was less likely than more likely that you committed the offense, the Judge will find you not responsible.

There is always an opportunity to appeal a Judge’s ruling, and if you decide to do this you will receive paperwork from the Court with strict instructions that must be followed.

If you have any questions regarding this process or would like to speak with one of our attorneys regarding the specifics of your case, please feel free to contact our firm for a free case evaluation at (480) 729-6280.