4/1/2016Photo Enforcement Shut Down In Arizona
Most Arizona cities confirm that they are no longer issuing speed camera or red light camera tickets.
Red light cameras and speed cameras are no longer issuing citations in Arizona. Cities throughout the state have decided to unplug their automated ticketing machines in the wake of last month's surprise opinion from Attorney General Mark Brnovich requiring photo ticket vendors to obtain private investigator licenses (read opinion).
"The city of Scottsdale has not issued any citations since March 16th in response to the attorney general's office opinion," Assistant Scottsdale City Attorney Luis Santaella explained in a March 28 email obtained by TheNewspaper. "Additionally, at the city's direction all photo enforcement cameras in the city of Scottsdale will have been turned off either by the end of today or tomorrow at the latest."
Last week, Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed a new law banning the use of automated ticketing machines on state-owned highways. The measure took the cameras out of action in El Mirage and Star Valley.
Thanks to the Brnovich ruling, the remaining cities that use photo enforcement tickets may not use photographs or other evidence collected by private companies like American Traffic Solutions (ATS) or Redflex because those firms lack the credentials required to submit evidence for use in a court of law. Anyone who processes an automated citation without being a certified police officer or a licensed private investigator is guilty of a class one misdemeanor.
The cities of Phoenix and Mesa have been telling callers that the photo ticketing systems are no longer processing citations, and Chandler's cameras are idle. In what turned out to be bad timing, Chandler's photo ticketing contract with ATS had been set to expire at the end of March, but the council voted 5 to 2 in September to extend it through the year 2021.
Paradise Valley is the outlier. This town was the first in Arizona to turn to speed cameras in 1987, and the town council is determined to be the last to turn them off.
"The town will continue to enforce state laws by using the photographic equipment and technology the town has purchased," a Paradise Valley press release explained. "All citations issued will be prosecuted. However, at the present time the town will not have any third-party contractor operate the photo enforcement system that the town owns and uses for gathering evidence related to traffic offenses."
In March 2014, Paradise Valley did authorize the purchase of five combination red light camera and speed cameras. However, under the existing contract with Redflex, the chain of evidence still flows through the unlicensed photo ticketing vendor.
"All violations data shall be stored on the Redflex system, but shall be the property of the town," Paradise Valley contract section 3.4.1 states.
It is not clear how a court will respond to the town's attempt to use Redflex software and servers to issue tickets without that company or its employees being properly licensed. The biggest problem facing Paradise Valley and the other towns that have relied so heavily on automated ticketing machines is the potential liability for citations issued with evidence collected by unlicensed parties.
"The class action lawsuits are being drafted right now," Arizona Campaign for Liberty Executive Director Shawn Dow told TheNewspaper. "Those towns will come to regret every single ticket they ever issued, because it's going to cost them tens of millions in refunds."
Motorists in Arizona also receive points against their driver's license for each photo citation. The forthcoming cases against Arizona towns will seek compensation for increased insurance premiums on top of the cost of each ticket.