When I first moved to Arizona decades ago, I was told that I absolutely had to slow down as I made my way around town. First, I was told by my spouse. Later on, a member of our city's police department told me again. Only this time he told me as he was writing out my speeding ticket.

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The officer was nice about it, but the ticket was well deserved. I was going far too fast for that part of town. Ironically, the speed limit was raised a short time later on that stretch of road, but it didn't matter. I still had to pay the ticket.

Speed Limit Margins?

If you've moved here from out of state, you may have noticed our law enforcement officers are a little less lenient when it comes to exceeding the posted speed limit than they might be in other states.

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And if you don't live in the Tucson or Phoenix metro areas, you probably don't have a major highway running through town, so the average speed limit drops a bit lower. If you do travel highways or the Interstate, you may have wondered what the "speed margin" is. Are you legally allowed to go 10 miles an hour over the speed limit?

Absolute Speed Limit

"But I was only going 5 or 10 miles over the speed limit!" 

How many times have you heard someone say that? In the past, I've heard people say that police officers usually grant drivers a small speed margin before they pull someone over.

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These so-called "authorities" have told me the margin is about 5 miles an hour over the limit; other people have said it's as much as 10 miles an hour above the posted maximum. But is it true?

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Here's the legal on that that. According to DrivingLaws.org. Arizona has an absolute, or maximum speed limit, and anything over the posted limit is considered speeding - and yes, you can get a ticket.

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For example, if the posted maximum speed limit is 55 miles an hour and you're doing 60 miles an hour, you are speeding and you can get a ticket.

DrivingLaws.org says: "Unless otherwise posted, Arizona's absolute speed limits prohibit motorists from driving faster than:

  • 65 miles per hour on an interstate highway located outside an urbanized area (having a population of 50,000 people or more), and
  • 35 miles per hour while operating a motorcycle without headlamps that enable at least 300 feet of visibility."
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So, if you're running late, it's better to pull off the road and let someone know you're going to be a little late so that you don't end up with a traffic ticket. And find you're a LOT later than you planned!

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