Speak Up! - View Question #61
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Question: How much over the legal speed limit is considered Reckless Driving?
In Arizona, when a person drives a vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property, the driver may be guilty of reckless driving. (A.R.S. § 28-693) Arizona law does not require that the vehicle be driven at a speed over the speed limit at all. A person driving a car below the legal speed limit, or in a parking lot where no speed limit is posted, can still be guilty of reckless driving if the driver endangers people or property.
Reckless Driving can also depend on the circumstances such as weather and traffic conditions. A person driving at a posted speed limit in an area congested with pedestrians or other vehicles, for example as a crowd is leaving a football game, can be considered driving recklessly.
Weather conditions can make a difference, as well. Even driving below the speed limit on a particularly icy or wet roadway might be considered Reckless Driving.
Although there is no such requirement contained in the statute, the "rule of thumb" that often seems to be applied by both police, prosecutors, and courts, is that Reckless Driving occurs when a person strings at least three minor moving violations together. An example might be a person driving down a busy street who is cutting in and out of traffic without signaling while tailgating might quickly amass three violations in a short period of time which could lead to a Reckless Driving citation.
Occasionally you will see an officer cite someone for Reckless Driving solely because they drove at a high rate of speed, well above the posted limit. However, Arizona already has a two level speeding statute which makes it a civil violation to be driving at a speed up to nineteen miles-an-hour over the speed limit and a criminal speeding statute which covers people driving at twenty miles-an-hour or more over the posted speed limit. Were an officer to issue a citation for Reckless Driving based solely on speed, it would usually be for a speed from thirty to forty miles per hour over the speed limit. This would usually occur if there is other traffic that might be in danger, or if the driver has passengers who would be put in danger should the driver lose control of the vehicle.
The most direct answer to this question is that the Reckless Driving statute does not require that a person drive above the speed limit at all, much less at any specified number of miles per hour over a posted speed limit. See A.R.S. § 28-693 for more information and the full text of the law.