PHOENIX — The Arizona Senate passed a bill Thursday that could change state law to ease up on speeders.
State Senator David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, introduced Senate Bill 1669. If made into law, people would not necessarily be arrested for going over 85 miles an hour. It would change the law to define criminal speeding as anything 20 mph and above the posted speed limit.
So, someone could drive 95 mph in a 75 mph posted speed limit zone and only face a fine no more than $250.
The measure would also let someone drive up to 10 mph over the speed limit on a public highway and only face a fine no more than $15, and it would not get reported to the driver's insurance.
"If you were doing 10 over or under, then the police officer had a tool to be able to utilize to allow for a ticket that says, 'waste of finite resource' with these penalties here and not be recorded over on your insurance side," Gowan said during a committee hearing earlier this month. "So what this would do, is bring this up to date."
Others who oppose the bill see it as a safety hazard.
"It's a slippery slope to giving the people behind the wheel that get-out-of-jail-free card to go that much faster and you know makes the roads that much more dangerous," State Senator Lupe Contreras, D-Avondale, said.
The Arizona Senate passed the measure Thursday 17-13. It will now head over to lawmakers in the Arizona House.
Speeding in Arizona
The Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety tracks the number of speeding citations each year.
In 2019, the office reports 14,206 criminal speeding citations were issued across Arizona. Criminal speeding means going 20 mph over the speed limit or over 85 mph under current state law.
The Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety reported 248,676 civil speeding citations were issued in 2019 by law enforcement agencies across the state.
Civil speeding includes going anywhere from 1 to 20 miles an hour over the speed limit or driving below it.
Tempe police Traffic Sergeant Steve Carbajal said, generally speaking, increased speed means increased danger.
"I think that's really what we're coming to, is that some of these collisions that we see are serious or fatal would have been slightly mitigated or maybe less serious if someone would have maybe just slowed down," Carbajal said.