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8/3/2008
Arizona Cities Develop New Speed Camera Tricks
Arizona cities use tricks to draw extra revenue out of local photo radar programs.

Photo radar warning
Local jurisdictions in Arizona are finding new ways to squeeze extra revenue out of motorists. Now that the Arizona Department of Public Safety has assumed the duty of operating speed cameras on freeways -- with the profit going to the state's general fund -- cities have turned to creative methods to maximize the return from their local photo radar initiatives.

Prescott Valley's private speed camera company, Redflex, has found a way to charge motorists an extra $26 fee, for example. The Daily Courier newspaper reported that the Australian firm is sending process servers to the homes of motorists who take traffic school courses as permitted by law. Process servers are supposed to be used to provide official notification of a citation to motorists -- for a fee. Motorists who take a traffic school course before their court date have fulfilled their obligation under the law.

The Courier cited the case of Rodney Szabo, 43, who was accused by a machine of driving 36 MPH in a 25 zone. He paid $130 for a traffic school class on June 21 but received on July 16 two separate notices from the court. One was confirmation that he had attended the course and the second was a bill for $26. When Szabo contested the fee, Judge Keith Carson insisted that he pay.

Scottsdale is similarly taking advantage of a loophole in state law to trap motorists. In 2006, lawmakers mandated the use of signs to serve as a warning to drivers that they should slow down before reaching a speed camera. But this law only applies to cameras operating in locations where the speed limit is 45 MPH or greater. Drivers accustomed to seeing the signs have become conditioned to believe photo radar is not in use if no signs are visible.

"Most cities do put out the signs anyway no matter what the speed limit is," the law's author, state Representative Bob Robson (R-Chandler), told the East Valley Tribune newspaper. "It's a fairness issue and a delicate balance between right and wrong."

The Tribune reported that Scottsdale often does not use warning signs. As a result, its mobile camera program generates up to $72,000 in monthly revenue.



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