When it comes to statutes of limitations, Arizona, like other states, has its own legal identity and policies – it's ultimately up to the state to determine the amount of time a person or government agency has to take civil action for any given legal offense. In the Grand Canyon State, that time is as endless as the canyon itself in matters of traffic violations, though short gaps between the offense and citation usually mean they're not a factor. However, some state-specific legal wrinkles come into play regarding the collection of traffic-related fines.
About Statutes of Limitation
Before diving into the specifics of traffic law, it's key to understand exactly what a statute of limitation is. No matter where you are in the U.S., a statute of limitations is the period of time in which a lawsuit or civil action can be filed, starting from the date of the incident, when the plaintiff becomes aware of damages or when the plaintiff should have been aware of the damages. Think of it as your time limit to file a lawsuit, or your time limit in which a legal action may be taken against you.
These limitations intend to ensure that witness testimony and evidence stay fresh. As elsewhere, Arizona criminal statutes of limitation and civil statutes of limitation are determined by the state, so the time limits vary by location and the type of claim. For example, the statutes of limitation for some common offenses in Arizona are:
- Creditor judgment: four years.
- Fraud: three years.
- Libel or slander: one year.
- Professional malpractice: two years.
- Trespassing: two years.
There are, of course, some exceptions, such as for offenses that occur when the plaintiff was a minor or had been mentally incapacitated, or when the plaintiff was unaware of damages caused by the potential violation until a later date.
Limitations on Traffic Violations
So, is there a statute of limitations on speeding tickets in Arizona? What about a statute of limitations on parking tickets? Generally speaking, there is no statute of limitations in place on traffic violations in Arizona. By nature, most common civil moving and nonmoving traffic violations, such as speeding, running a red light or parking illegally, are cited by way of a ticket, which is commonly received in the immediate time frame of the event or delivered soon after by mail, as in the case of photo radar citations.
Even so, there are no on-the-books statutes limiting the filing of offenses for traffic violations, as of 2019 in Arizona.
Read More: Statute of Limitations on Traffic Violations
Limitations on Collections
Despite Arizona's lack of a statute of limitations for traffic offenses, an interesting state law does pertain to limits on paying civil penalties, including civil traffic violations: Arizona Statute 28-1601. Put into effect in 2007, subsection C of this law dictates that the state should not initiate collection proceedings on an unpaid civil penalty after 36 months from the date of the incident. Likewise, the state should not attempt to have the offender's license renewal blocked after such time.
However, there are some exceptions to this law. For instance, if the court does notify the Arizona Department of Transportation of the outstanding payment, ADOT may choose to suspend the person's driver's license or prohibit renewal of their license and registration.
Limitations on Vehicle-Related Offenses
Of course, vehicle-related legal issues don't end with traffic violations. If you've been involved in an auto accident, you may be looking at all sorts of other related issues. For instance, personal injury offenses in Arizona come with a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the event. Personal property damages are subject to the same two-year time limit.
If your car troubles are more on the financial end, you may be subject to limitations on debt collection (three years), oral contracts (3 years) and written contracts (six years).
Though Arizona does not impose specific statutes of limitation on traffic offenses, Statute 28-1601 does affect collection proceedings.
As a freelance writer and small business owner with a decade of experience, Dan has contributed legal- and finance-oriented content to diverse sources including Chron, Fortune, Zacks.com, Motley Fool and MSN Money, among others.