3/16/2016Arizona AG Halts All Photo Radar Use
Arizona attorney general rules photo enforcement companies may no longer operate in the state without a private investigator license.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sent shockwaves through the photo enforcement industry on Wednesday in finding that red light camera and speed camera companies have been violating the state's private investigator statute. Under the law, anyone other than a police officer who gathers evidence for use in a court trial must be a licensed investigator. Failure to obtain a license is a class one misdemeanor.
"The private investigator licensing statutes specifically exempt eleven categories of persons from its licensing requirements," Brnovich wrote. "Photo enforcement system contractors, however, are not identified in the list of persons exempted from the private investigator licensing requirements."
A previous attorney general ruling had sided with the state police in saying the requirement did not apply to the freeway photo radar program. Brnovich overruled his predecessor, arguing the text of the statute in question is unambiguous and not open to interpretation.
"A third party which contracts to operate a photo enforcement system in the state clearly falls within the definition of 'private investigator' under Arizona Revised Statutes Section 32-2401(16)(b)," Brnovich wrote. "By definition, persons who contract to operate a photo enforcement system engage in a business to 'secure evidence to be used... in the trial of civil or criminal cases and the preparation therefor.' ...This interpretation -- that photo enforcement system contractors must comply with private investigator licensing laws -- is also reinforced by the fact that photo enforcement system contractors are not exempted from Arizona's private investigator licensing requirements."
State Representative Sonny Borrelli (R-Lake Havasu City) brought the issue into the spotlight. At a recent hearing, Borrelli asked American Traffic Solutions (ATS) lobbyist Stan Barnes whether anyone in the photo enforcement industry had been properly licensed. Barnes immediately sent a text message to the head of ATS to get an answer. None was provided at the hearing.
"Three weeks ago, I asked the office of the attorney general to look into and issue an opinion regarding photo radar," Borrelli said. "Today, I am extremely pleased with the opinion that was issued, and hope this will put to rest an issue that has plagued the state of Arizona for far too long. I want to thank Attorney General Mark Brnovich and his staff for the work that went into this issue, and look forward to photo radar in this state becoming a thing of the past."
Brnovich says there is nothing stopping companies like ATS and Redflex from obtaining licenses for its employees. The process requires strict background checks, registration, payment of fees and completion of a three-year apprenticeship.
"Ultimately if this becomes the law in Arizona we will comply just like we have with every other regulation promulgated by the state of Arizona pertaining to road safety cameras," ATS spokesman Charles Territo said in an emailed statement.
The argument that photo enforcement firms had to be licensed was first advanced in Louisiana by Denice C. Skinner, who filed a complaint against a speed camera operator with the Louisiana Board of Private Investigators in 2007. The board agreed with Skinner, but the industry found a judge to block enforcement, and the board lacked the resources to appeal the decision.
A copy of today's opinion is available in a 70k PDF file at the source link below.