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Photo Enforcement "Notice of Violation" Safe to Ignore Without Worry of Process Servers

We're still getting plenty of responses to our popular blog post on how to beat photo enforcement tickets without feeling guilty -- most of them questions from people who were recently flashed. Though many of the new questions were answered in that post and a subsequent follow-up, we thought this one deserved special attention:

Jim says:

Hello all,

I just received a speed camera ticket while I was driving through phoenix. I dont see anywhere on the form where it says I am waiving my rights? thats the only reason I am reluctant to just ignore it. Anyone have info on this? It just asks for me to verify my info and sign.

thx!
Posted On: Tuesday, Feb. 17 2009 @ 9:18AM


What Jim received wasn't a ticket at all, but rather a violation "notice." (See image below).

When the government (in this case, the Arizona Department of Public Safety) can't match up the person in the violation picture with the physical description of the vehicle's registered owner, no citation can be issued. Instead, the government makes a feeble attempt to scare the owner into accepting responsibility for the violation or squealing on the guilty leadfoot.

As we've explained, the law does not require the owner to tattle on anyone.

But as you can see in the image, the notice implies legal action could occur if you don't mail the thing to DPS:





To the DPS' credit, the notice isn't all that threatening and never actually states something will happen if it's not mailed back. In case you can't read the small print, it says "Sign this form and MAIL to ... before the respond by date. Then it gives a number to call "if you are unsure what to do."

We asked an operator at that number what would happen if the notice was ignored.

"I don't think, in this case, that they would personally serve you," she said.

Ding-ding -- right answer.

As far as we've heard, ignoring a "notice" instead of a citation is as safe as throwing away junk mail. Unlike in an actual citation, which asks you to waive your God-given right to process service, the notice contains information on the owner only, not the violator.

In Arizona, the registered owner isn't responsible for the ticket -- just the driver who was speeding or running the red light. Without some kind of detective work, authorities won't know who to serve.

Authorities dismiss the notice after two months, which is the statute of limitations for civil traffic violations.

Mail it in before the "respond by (sic) date?"

Give us one good reason.
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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.