Gotcha!

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

If a business ignores a citation, it must be dismissed after four months, like other ignored citations. And if the business identifies the driver, the original corporate citation still must be dismissed from the court. Therefore, court employees have fewer cases to deal with when corporate citations are never filed with the court at all.

After New Times told Elsa Lynch, Paradise Valley's court administrator and part-time judge, how most cities handle corporate violators, Lynch took steps to change the town's photo-enforcement system.

By separating people who could be prosecuted for camera violations from businesses that can't, the court will save time and money, she says.

Attorney and author Susan Kayler believes photo enforcement violates the rights of drivers.
courtesy of Susan Kayler
Attorney and author Susan Kayler believes photo enforcement violates the rights of drivers.
After Phoenix accountant Al Golusin filed a complaint, a court revoked the license of a local process server.
Laura Segall
After Phoenix accountant Al Golusin filed a complaint, a court revoked the license of a local process server.

"I think this is a fantastic idea," says Lynch.

For businesses, trusts and governments, everything about photo enforcement is voluntary.

No surprise, then, that most don't respond to the mailings.

During Scottsdale's highly publicized Loop 101 speed camera test program, which ran from February to October 2006, more than 12,000 notices of violation to corporations, governments and trusts were never acknowledged.

But the city uses speed vans, intersection speed cameras and red-light cameras, too. In the first nine months of 2006, Scottsdale mailed 31,831 notices to business and government entities. About 57 percent never became citations.

A detailed review of the violation data provided to New Times following a public records request showed that cities, Indian tribes, school districts, and federal and state government departments were among the ranks of those that ignored violation notices from Scottsdale.

The cities of Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa — which use photo enforcement to nail drivers in their cities — each failed to respond to two or more notices mailed by Scottsdale. Chandler responded to one notice and blew off another. While some of these were police cars, most were city fleet vehicles.

In other words, cities will hire process servers to track you down if you don't pay their photo tickets. But if Phoenix, Tempe or Mesa get a ticket from another city, they won't necessarily pay it.

Some businesses do sometimes tell police who was driving the vehicle in question. They may not realize the violation notice has no legal weight, or they may want to hold their employees accountable for driving problems. Yet most of these companies fail to respond to at least as many notices as they mail back, either out of apathy or because the notices get lost in bureaucratic red tape.

The same holds true for certain government agencies. The state Department of Administration responded to only three of 19 violations. The state Department of Economic Security let only five of 16 notices get turned into citations.

Liz Barker, a spokeswoman for DES, says the agency hadn't realized its system of identifying speeding drivers was so inefficient until New Times called. The notices apparently weren't notice enough.

Barker said officials would fix the process by putting one person in charge of making sure everyone who got a photo ticket was held accountable.

Rental car companies made up the largest single class of corporate violators in the records. Enterprise identified more than 2,000 of its drivers to authorities. Hertz, on the other hand, managed to identify only seven drivers out of 4,787 who drew violation notices.

Records from Mesa, Chandler and Paradise Valley on corporate violators show similar trends:

• Most companies identify either all drivers or none. In some cases, a company might identify one driver out of a dozen or more with violations — perhaps because that employee simply wasn't liked by the boss.

• Most companies that don't respond to the notices are local.

• Companies that ignore the notices are more likely to have multiple speeding violations.

Contractors, dog groomers, churches, housekeepers, limo drivers, medical services, ice cream and pizza shops — the companies that trashed their photo-enforcement notices are as varied as the business world itself.

New Times' records search also turned up hundreds of family trusts among the notices; the majority did not identify the photographed driver to authorities.

Perhaps businesses have a legitimate need to speed at times — maybe that's the case with AAA Africanized Bee Removal, a Tucson company caught doing 79 on the Loop 101. Privately owned ambulances, like fire trucks, can speed legally in emergencies.

Many companies likely handle the violations internally, and police say they are satisfied if a scolding from a supervisor, rather than a ticket, gets a driver to slow his speed.

But what's unjust is that corporations and public entities have total freedom to choose how to handle photo enforcement — and you, the ordinary citizen, don't.

During the Loop 101 program, about 20,000 of the non-servable notices were sent to vehicle owners whose physical descriptions, as kept by MVD, did not closely resemble the drivers in the violation photographs. Less than a quarter of those turned into citations.

And speaking of the actual citations, 10,000 were dismissed after vehicle owners proved they weren't the drivers.

So for the 101 freeway test program, which ended in late October, about 48,000 people paid their fines or went to defensive driving school. And about 59,000 drivers got out of their tickets.

To join that majority, you could form a corporation, LLC, limited partnership, or family trust, then re-register your vehicle to it. It doesn't cost any extra at the MVD, and you get a regular, non-commercial-looking plate.

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My Voice Nation Help
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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