4

Arizona Photo Enforcement Eases Slightly; "Criminal" Speed Violations on Freeways Now Deemed "Civil"

^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

 

The fastest drivers caught by freeway speed cameras in Arizona will be punished less, thanks to a policy change that halts the mailing of criminal speeding tickets.

The state Department of Public Safety, which operates the highway speed-camera program, says the change -- made without fanfare earlier this month -- won't likely result in fewer photo-related arrests. About 10 motorists snapped by the cameras have been arrested in the last six month -- and none strictly for speeding, DPS says.

Folks caught doing stupid, reckless things by the cameras, like sticking their heads through sunroofs, can still be arrested.

But people committing criminal speed violations will now pay less in penalties and experience fewer hassles.

 

State law allows cops to issue criminal traffic tickets for speeds higher than 85 miles per hour, or less, in certain circumstances. The violation is considered a class 3 misdemeanor under Arizona law.

The DPS, which operates the state-run camera system on freeways and highways, mailed about 4,000 such tickets to motorists last year, (and about 600,000 plain, old civil speeding tickets).

The criminal-speed tickets typically merit a higher fine, but they also mean extra work for DPS staff. These days, with the state struggling with a budget crisis, fewer officers are available to do that work.

So on February 10, the DPS made a "business decision" to make every ticket civil, rather than criminal, says DPS Lieutenant Jeff King.

King explains that each criminal ticket had to be filed with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for prosecution, and each defendant had to be interviewed. Troopers had been contacting about six people a day, he says.

Now, the ticket will be deemed civil even if the recorded speed is in the "criminal" range.

Criminal speed penalties typically range from $235 (for up to 29 mph over the posted speed limit) to $460 (for 40 over) and more. Ticket-getters can't just mail in a fine -- they have to see a judge and make a plea. Often, they aren't allowed to take driving school, either.

All civil photo-enforcement violations on the freeway carry a flat fine of $181.50, so some leadfoots will be getting off much easier than in the past.

No matter what kind of ticket shows up in the mail, by now you should know what to do with it.

 

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.