What is the law?
In summary, A.R.S. 28-369(E) provides that a police officer may require a vehicle that is subject to the fee in A.R.S. 28-5433 or the requirements in A.R.S. 28-2321 through 28-2324 to stop at a port of entry in Arizona for the purpose of enforcing a motor vehicle law. A person who fails to stop as required by this statute is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.
What vehicles are subject to this law?
Under A.R.S. 28-5433, the following vehicles are subject to this law:
- A trailer or semitrailer with a gross weight of ten thousand pounds or less and that is used in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise.
- A motor vehicle or vehicle combination if the motor vehicle or vehicle combination is designed, used or maintained primarily for the transportation of passengers for compensation or for the transportation of property.
- A hearse, an ambulance or any other vehicle that is used by a mortician in the conduct of the mortician's business.
- A commercial motor vehicle as defined in section 28-5201.
Foreign (owned by someone who is not a resident of Arizona) vehicles operated in Arizona:
- For the transportation of passengers or property for compensation.
- In the business of a nonresident carried on in this state.
- For the transportation of property.
- In the furtherance of a commercial enterprise and is a passenger-carrying motor vehicle designed to seat twelve or more persons.
In short, if you are driving a vehicle used for some commercial enterprise, or you are doing work related to a mortician, you need to stop at Arizona's ports of entry.
How do you defend against a failure to stop at port of entry charge?
There are a number of exceptions to the laws above. For example, religious institutions or schools may be exempt from this requirement. If charged with this violation, you would always want to read the statutes carefully and see if any of the exceptions apply to your circumstances.
There might also be factual arguments. Maybe the signage for the port of entry was obscured. Maybe the port of entry was temporarily closed. Maybe there was a traffic accident that made it impossible to exit in time.
Beyond any defenses or factual arguments, the driver's character and background, if good, could be helpful in negotiating an improved outcome.
What are the consequences of a conviction?
A failure to stop at a port of entry conviction is a class 1 misdemeanor, which means there is the potential for up to six months in jail, and $2,500 in fines plus surcharges, which would nearly double the fine. In practice, jail time is unlikely and the fine will likely be far less than the maximum.