Gotcha!

Corporations and governments can legally ignore photo tickets in the Valley, while the rest of us are expected to pay up -- or else

On the other hand, had Cisneros been driving a corporate vehicle — if her car had been registered to her mortgage company, for example — there would have been no story.

No process servers would have come. No court date would have been assigned.

Cisneros would have skated like Wolf & Associates did. The Phoenix law firm triggered 18 photo violations in Scottsdale in the first nine months of 2006. One Loop 101 violation was for going 97 mph.

Repeated calls to the firm for comment were unreturned.

Scottsdale records show that Wolf & Associates, which advertises that it defends people charged in auto accidents and with DUIs, never responded to violation notices. It's not like the firm has a large fleet, either: The MVD says five vehicles are registered to the company.

So while one speeder goes to jail and faces public scorn and ridicule for ignoring multiple tickets, a big law firm does the same thing with no consequence.


The photo-enforcement system is like a bad cop.

It's like a bigot on crystal meth — a sleepless, unfair lawman who ignores certain types of drivers as it punishes others.

And it's multiplying. Six Valley cities now use speed or red light cameras: Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, and Paradise Valley. Glendale and other Arizona cities are considering them.

Because of the Loop 101 program, photo enforcement has been huge news lately in Arizona. Governor Janet Napolitano lauded the program last month and suggested that cameras be installed on other stretches of state highways. On January 30, the Scottsdale City Council voted to reactivate the Loop 101 system. The cameras are slated to start flashing again on February 22.

Authorities insist the public must respect these badgeless auto-police.

You're supposed to pay your ticket promptly when the photograph clearly shows it's you in the driver's seat. If someone else was driving, you're supposed to tattle on that person — wife, daughter, best friend, trusted employee, whomever.

Then again, photo enforcement doesn't play fair — so why should you ?

Screw the machines.

Savvy motorists have long known that ignoring a ticket can be effective in beating it, and numbers show this is no urban myth. More than 25 percent of the 90,520 people issued photo citations on Loop 101 in Scottsdale last year had their cases dismissed this way.

Knowing the system is the key. Once you do, you can choose what's right for you: opening your wallet with a resigned sigh, or taking countermeasures.

Sure, there are ethical considerations in playing cat-and-mouse with the process server or in putting a glare-producing shield over your license plate. But when the system lets tens of thousands of corporate vehicle drivers get away with speeding and running red lights at all times, it's easy to forget about personal ethics when it comes to photo tickets.

You see, vehicles registered to a corporation, limited liability corporation (also known as an LLC), limited partnership, or family trust are immune to photo tickets. So are public entities like city governments (though some do occasionally pay tickets received from other jurisdictions).

Here's why: The police and courts may send process servers to visit the home of someone who blew off a mailed ticket. But they don't do the same thing for businesses.

Lawyers say Arizona civil traffic violations can only be issued to a real, live person. Since the corporation can't be held liable, there's no reason to serve it the ticket.

Most cities don't send real citations to corporations. They send weakly worded notices that can be safely thrown in the trash. Unlike the grim tone of a citation, which orders the motorist to pay a fine or appear in court on a certain date, the violation notices let the company know up front: "This is not a Summons to Appear. There is no fine associated with this Notice."

The notices sent to businesses gently ask them to identify the driver and mail the form back so a new ticket can be reissued in the driver's name. No law forces anyone to do that, however.

Scottsdale's been mailing such notices for years; Mesa and Phoenix started sending them last year. Tempe sends businesses a letter instead of a citation.

Police do nothing when the notices are disregarded. Granted, police could choose to investigate repeat offenders like Wolf & Associates — but they've never done so.

The process is slightly different in Chandler and Paradise Valley, which sends all violators, regardless of the name of the registered owner, a citation. The result is the same, though. Corporations, trusts and government entities that blow off the notices are not held accountable.

Officer Jed Gunter, Chandler's photo-enforcement manager, receives a daily list of violators who ignored their mailed tickets. He asks the court to sic process servers on most of them. But not all.

"If there are any corporations, I just go ahead and X them out, because you can't serve a corporation," he says.

Asked why Chandler never tries to catch repeat corporate offenders, Gunter replies, "I've never thought about it."

Mailing the businesses toothless notices, rather than citations, saves work for police and courts. The reason is, citations, unlike notices, are filed with the court just before being mailed.

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12 comments
dmsbayne
dmsbayne

Hers the deal, It is obvious that These cams are only for lining the pockets of those who are getting kick backs from the money made, ie. Scottesdale $800:000 in one year. If that is the case then fire two copes for every cam since we don't need them and they can eat their doughnuts at home. But most important is that driving should now be a right and to allow the MVD to dictate weather or not I can drive myself or a family member to the emergency room or to work or to get food for the babies is un American. Any one who believes that we shouldn't have the right to drive should get out of the USA. Its Big Brother just wanting to be in our business because its a drug to them. Do you realy think that those pics just go away. Does NSA mean anything. Get 30 or 40 of your friends with masks and coverd lic plates and all of you speed through a cam. Be safe though, and let the light show begin

forester74
forester74

I keep reading that after 120 days it is invalid.  And besides the city of Show Low is most likely not going to be connected with the DMV.  They only know the address associated with your vehicle.  After 4 months you are off the hook.

Seeley3
Seeley3

i need help i am moving to show low az. i was there 5 min. got to camera tickets .sent to me in new jersey. what do i do. i will eventually have to apply for az. licensce in 6 months.

greenspite
greenspite

Does anyone know if Arizona hires out of state process servers to go after arizona photo speeding tickets? I live in Florida, and got the photo ticket in Paradise Valley?

DavidKnows
DavidKnows

I don't understand, the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have the political rights of people, so why don't they have the same legal consequences? Under the Citizens United decision they should be liable. Thank you, I just earned Arzona $5 million annually.

Jason Trenkler
Jason Trenkler

The whole thing is garbage, thank goodness that DPS is no longer using the photo radar vans.

goldnugg
goldnugg

I KNOW YOU CAN BE LEGALLY SERVED BY MAIL NOW BUT CAN IT BE LEGAL TO A MAIL BOX AT A AUXERLLY POST OFFICE???

beaner
beaner

Fuck the photo radar and west Mcdowell courts and lets not forget Judge Nap....ASSHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLE

Anonymous
Anonymous

Honestly, I don't think photo enforcement is a violation of an individual's rights. But the fact that you get charged $200+ with no warning notice sent makes it unfair in my opinion. They should send a warning notice for the first offense, and then like a $30 ticket on repeat offenses at the same location. That seems a lot more fair and would deter speeding, especially since a person charged would by then be surely aware of the speed limit.

Judy
Judy

Believe it or not, I was recently ticketed with photo radar on FLW while I was going 45 mph (the speed limit). The ticket I received said I was going 78 mph. I went to court, told the truth and paid $270.00 for my trouble of informing them that the machines are malfunctioning. I wonder, is this happening to anyone else?

Judy

Patti
Patti

I think the photo enforcement is a crock. It allows Scottsdale PD and DPS to be lazy in my opinion.

What type of analysis was done regarding the accidents on this particular stretch? Did the concept of vehicles going TOO slow and merging on the freeway play a role? And what about the concept of vehicles "cutting" over going too slow? All of these and other issues, I've experienced on this stretch of freeway and because of my alertness, was able to avoid the accident while the offending driver gets upset because I've honked my horn.

And what about the flashes? I can tell you, many of times, I've seen the flash, which has distracted my eyes from the road briefly, to make sure it wasn't me. That flash can be blinding at night.

I understand completely the concept of speed limits, however, the ONLY individuals affected by this photo radar are the ones that go more than 10 miles over the speed limit. NOTHING is done regarding those that can't even drive the speed limit or those that can't abide by any of the other road laws.

Am I angry? Yes! And yes, I was "caught" but the thing that gets me is the wording I received when I went to court to explain things. I can assure you, had there been an officer, one of the tickets would not be issued and the fact that the photo radar has a +/- 1 MPH accuracy issue and my "picture" indicated 76 MPH vs the 75 MPH, it seems to me, that +/- 1 MPH should be taken into consideration and when it's as close as mine was, to be quite honest, yes that would should have been dismissed, especially with the time of day, the amount of traffic and so forth.

To allow the corporate world to get off scott free while individuals, such as myself, be held accountable is unfair practice.

Billy
Billy

Yeah, just don't pay it... it goes away.

 
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