6/25/2008Arizona Arrests Nevada Woman Based on Photos
Las Vegas, Nevada resident arrested in Arizona on basis of Scottsdale speed camera photos.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) boasted yesterday that it had arrested a Nevada resident based solely on claims made by a speed camera. According to the state police, automated ticketing machines on the Loop 101 freeway snapped photographs of the Ford Mustang belonging to Jennifer Lynne Bitton, 24, on twenty-two occasions. Bitton could end up behind bars because, police say, she passed one camera at 92 MPH in the 65 MPH speed limit zone.
"Photo enforcement exists to help slow people down thereby ensuring the safety of everyone on the road," DPS Director Roger Vanderpool said in a statement.
Vanderpool wanted to make an example of Bitton by sending police to arrest the Las Vegas resident while she was staying at her parents' home in Scottsdale. According to court records, Bitton had never been properly served with legal notice of any of the tickets until she was hauled away to jail on Friday.
In addition, Bitton likely did not know about the speed cameras because in her home state, the police would be the ones facing legal trouble if they were caught using the devices. Nevada law makes it a crime for law enforcement to use automated cameras to issue any form of traffic citation (NRS 484.910). Nevada law does not accept a mere photograph as a reliable basis for a conviction that could send a driver to jail.
Arizona law is much looser, and that state's speed camera program has a history of making false or inflated accusations. In January, Scottsdale was forced to dismiss 589 photo tickets after the vendor in charge of the system admitted a broken sensor caused speed estimates to read high. Similarly, in May 2006 a camera accused a man of driving 147 MPH in a rented Hyundai Sonata, even though the vehicle had a measured top speed of just 137 MPH. Around the same time, a black man was given a speeding ticket for an offense clearly committed by a white man. In 2005, the city was forced to refund a total of 1964 tickets after a mobile speed camera van operator working for Australian vendor Redflex made a change in the software that removed date, time and speed information from every alleged violation.
Bitton now faces two counts of criminal speed, two counts of reckless driving and one count of endangerment in Scottsdale Municipal Court. DPS hopes to force Bitton to pay as much as Francesca Cisneros. Cisneros was arrested and jailed five days over speed camera accusations in 2006. Her fines totaled $10,022.