Gotcha!

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

A Denver TV news crew did a spot on the spray and other products a few years ago with the cooperation of the police department, which set up a speed van on a closed track. If the newscast is to be believed (see it at www.phantomplate.com), the product worked as advertised.

Commander John Lamb of the Denver Police Department, however, says the experiment was hardly scientific. If the police had done a test, Lamb says, "it would be much more effective than some Fox 31 bimbo driving through the thing."

He admits the spray did put glare on the plate, as the newscast shows. But he still thinks it's a rip-off.

Mike Maas
Francesca Cisneros achieved infamy last year after getting 70 photo-enforcement tickets.
Giulio Sciorio
Francesca Cisneros achieved infamy last year after getting 70 photo-enforcement tickets.

At $30 a can, he might be right. For sure, none of the companies that sell these products guarantees you won't get a ticket.

"A can of [lacquer] would do the same thing," Lamb says.

Phoenix police say they put a few of the products through the wringer in an unpublicized test about four years ago, after the city had installed its first red-light cameras, and neither the shield nor the spray worked.

A perfect test of the shield and spray under real-world conditions would have to involve the photo-enforcement companies. If the vendors have conducted such tests and know the products work, they aren't saying.

What is certain is that they attract unwanted police attention on the road. The sprays are invisible, but the shields could make a vehicle's license plate illegible to live police, which is a ticketable offense in Arizona.

Public records show that police in cities with traffic cameras do occasionally stop and cite motorists for having an obscured license plate. A cop who doesn't appreciate what the shield is for may pull you over because of it.

That happened twice to one local Corvette driver, who used a type of shield that allows the plate numbers to be read only when directly behind the vehicle. (A bill now before the state legislature aims to outlaw such shields.) The driver, who did not wish to be named for this article, says she's positive the shield kept her from getting tickets on Loop 101.

But the second time she was stopped, the officer took pictures of the plastic shield for evidence and wrote her a $90 ticket.

"So I took it off," she says. "And lo and behold, on the frickin' 101, I got a $188 ticket."


Soon after your photo ticket comes in the mail, or possibly before, you'll get an advertisement from Joe Geremia of Angelfire Enterprises, who wants to charge you $65 for advice he says will help you beat the rap.

A few years ago, Geremia won a court ruling that forced cities to hand over the names and addresses of all ticket-getters. He's not making millions off his paid advice — he lives in a Glendale mobile home — but he says he makes a profit.

Geremia's info is accurate, but the "product" is grossly overpriced. Responding to the come-on gets you four printed pages containing Geremia's feelings about photo enforcement and instruction to hide from the process servers, who come in the evenings and weekends.

You already know that now. You just saved $65.

One source of good information, though, is a book by Scottsdale attorney Susan Kayler called Smile for the Speed Camera: Photo Radar Exposed!

Assuming you've tried everything but still got served and have a court date, you may find Kayler's book and Web site (www.photoradarlaw.com) of special interest. They give detailed instructions on various defenses to use at your hearing. For example, most posted speed limits are soft in Arizona, giving motorists the privilege to drive at "reasonable and prudent" speeds.

Although judges usually consider anything over the speed limit unreasonable, since speed limits are based on traffic-engineering studies of what the road can safely handle, people frequently squeak out of tickets with this argument. If the road is not crowded, no kids are playing on the sidewalk and it isn't raining, the judge might have mercy on you.

Losing the hearing means you can't take defensive driving school to avoid penalty points on your license. But the odds of losing aren't as bad as you might think. In a recent six-month period in Paradise Valley, the court found 142 defendants responsible in photo cases, while another 184 were either found not responsible or had their cases dismissed at the hearing. Nine more people were found responsible but didn't have to pay fines.

Some cases are thrown out at the hearing before the judge gets involved because the motorist convinces the state's witness (a police officer or an employee of the photo-enforcement company) that there is no case.

Lenny Montanaro, Mesa's court administrator, says he's seen red-light camera pictures that captured a microsecond when both the yellow and the red lights were glowing at the same time. Although the police may push those violations through the system, he says, they are dismissed "in a split second" when the motorist shows the picture on the hearing day.

The lesson: Take a good look at the photo before paying the fine.

As with all things legal, you'll stand a better chance with a good lawyer by your side.

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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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