1/20/2016Photo Enforcement Industry Dream Bill Introduced In Arizona
Redflex and American Traffic Solutions find eleven Arizona state lawmakers to back bill enacting photo ticketing industry wish list.
A group of eleven Arizona state lawmakers wants to see a dramatic expansion in the use of photo radar, school bus cameras and red light cameras. The mostly Republican representatives introduced a measure that checks off just about every policy initiative on the photo enforcement industry wish list. It begins by renaming photo enforcement systems as "automated traffic safety devices" within the state code. It then deletes the legal provision the photo ticketing industry hates more than any other -- the personal service requirement.
Current law explicitly states that no individual who receives a ticket in the mail has a duty to respond. A jurisdiction that wants to enforce a photo radar ticket must serve notice in accordance with court procedures. As a result, many residents have taken to dodging process servers to avoid paying citations. Even executives from the photo enforcement industry have been caught exercising this legal provision.
If the Group of Eleven bill becomes law, citations could be sent by ordinary first class mail to vehicle owners, who would be held liable even if they never receive the citation or if they were not driving. Existing law requires the private companies that operate the automated ticketing machines make a positive identification of the driver. This results in thousands of tickets being thrown out when the driver is not visible in the violation photograph.
Photo fines under the new bill range from $150 to $750 each, with amounts increasing each year with the inflation rate. The bill splits the net profit evenly, with half going to the state and half going to the city or county where the camera is installed.
The bill states that ticket recipients are "presumed to have committed a violation" because they own a vehicle that was photographed. The only permissible defense is that a traffic signal malfunctioned and that malfunction happened to be visible in the photograph. Tickets could also be dismissed for motorists who were yielding to an ambulance or following the order of a police officer directing traffic -- but only if "the order or direction is observable on the recorded image." All photographs must be destroyed within ninety days of a case being closed to prevent audits such as the one in Baltimore, Maryland where image analysis confirmed that thousands of photo radar citations were issued to vehicles that were not speeding. Finally, the measure authorizes the creation of school bus cameras.
The bill is sponsored by Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff), Mark A. Cardenas (D-Phoenix) and Regina Cobb (R-Kingman) along with cosponsors Brenda Barton (R-Payson), Paul Boyer (R-Phoenix), Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek), Mark Finchem (R-Tucson), Vince Leach (R-Saddlebrooke), Javan D. Mesnard (R-Chandler), Lisa A. Otondo (D-Yuma) and Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa). A copy of the bill is available in a PDF file at the source link below.