Gotcha!

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

(Note: MVD won't do the same thing for a simple registered trade name or sole-proprietor business. Without the right paperwork, the vehicle's owner is classified as an individual — and individuals can be prosecuted for traffic citations.)

The Arizona Corporation Commission has made it easy to form an LLC without a lawyer (though you may want to consult one). The filing fee is $50, and publishing your articles of incorporation may set you back another $50. With freeway speeding tickets starting at $162, it might be money well spent. Check out the details at www.azcc.gov.

If the LLC is owned only by you, the IRS won't require you to file a separate tax return for it. And as long as the LLC vehicle is for personal use only, it shouldn't cost any more to insure, either.

Phoenix attorney Craig Gillespie beat a photo-enforcement ticket on a technicality.
Laura Segall
Phoenix attorney Craig Gillespie beat a photo-enforcement ticket on a technicality.
A Mesa judge suspended the fine of Mesa City Councilman Mike Whalen's October red-light camera ticket.
A Mesa judge suspended the fine of Mesa City Councilman Mike Whalen's October red-light camera ticket.

Even if the corporation shares your name ("John Doe, LLC"), don't worry — the photo ticket still goes in the corporate pile.

The easiest way to play the registration game is to put your car under your spouse's name, and vice versa. Drive grandpa's car, or anyone's car but your own.

That is, make the auto-cop's bias work for you.

Or you could be damned skillful at avoiding the process server.


On most days that it's open, the modest Paradise Valley courthouse on Invergordon Road bustles with activity, 80 percent of which is related to photo enforcement.

The small town of immense wealth and hardly any commercial property bills itself as the first in the country to mate cameras, computers and radar on the roads. It's a great way to catch speeders among the tens of thousands of commuters going to or from neighboring Phoenix each day.

Elsa Lynch, who's an easygoing, non-lawyerly judge with pictures of the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan hanging in her office, says she heard a few years back that her court was the seventh busiest in the state thanks to photo enforcement. The town has only 13,000 residents.

But flaws in the photo machines surfaced two years after the program began in 1988. The town had been sending tickets by registered mail, believing that would suffice as legal service under the law. That changed after a speeder who didn't sign or acknowledge his ticket won an appeals case in which he argued that putting a summons in the mail doesn't count as service.

Since then, cities have been forced to employ process servers who are bound by court rules. Typically, process-serving companies like AAA Photo Safety contract through a private photo-enforcement company such as Redflex Traffic Systems in Scottsdale, which is employed by Scottsdale, Chandler and Paradise Valley.

The way the program generally works is that once a violation is recorded, the private company collects the electronic data, including the photographs.

At Redflex's nondescript office, workers in black cubicles view the photos and determine whether the picture of the driver and license plate is good enough to use. If so, they forward the information to police and mail out either a civil traffic citation or the above-mentioned notices of violation, depending on the situation.

Police pass copies of the citations (not the notices) to the courts, and the clock starts ticking. Arizona law requires that once a civil case has been filed with a court, proper notice must be given to the defendant within 120 days. If not, the case must be dismissed.

"The court has no jurisdiction until it's served," Lynch says.

Although the dismissal is considered "without prejudice," meaning it can be re-filed, judges and court administrators say that no 120-day dismissal in a photo-enforcement case has ever been reintroduced.

The 120-day dismissal is the Holy Grail for those seeking to get out of a ticket.

Once those four months are gone, neither courts nor police take any further action. Many courts, including Scottsdale's, have search engines on the Arizona Supreme Court's public Web site that allow people to find out whether their ticket has reached this phase (www.supreme.state.az.us/publicaccess/notification/default.asp.)

The time will pass slowly.

Motorists usually get their copy of the citation a week or two after the court receives and files it. Some cities send a second notice after a month, if the first one goes unanswered.

The citation tells people to sign a waiver of process service. But why waive your right to anything? Let them come if that's what they want to do. The rules of the court say that people have a duty to avoid the cost of process service — but the only cost is to the defendant. (If the server nabs you, you'll pay the extra fee of about $25.)

At this point, the game boils down to a simple bet: If you win, you don't pay a thing. If you lose, you only pay slightly more money than you would have had to pay anyway. For instance, a red light ticket in Mesa would cost $210 (plus a special eight-hour driving school that costs another $60 or so), instead of $185 and the school.

The process servers don't get the full four months to hunt you down, but the time may vary between cities. In Mesa, the court date on the summons will be about 75 days after the violation date, and the court will waste 30 or 45 days hoping you'll mail back that waiver. That leaves the servers about a month before the court date. If they don't catch you by then, you should be okay.

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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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