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Fighting Photo Radar for Dummies (pg. 1)

Resistance is *NOT...
user 10082077
Scottsdale, AZ
Post #: 2
This is my first attempt to write up what I have learned so far about Arizona civil traffic photo radar matters. This is not legal advice of course. Comments are requested and questions are welcome.

First of all and very important, the first piece of paperwork sent by DPS/Redflex is not a justice system document. It is just a notice from a state agency and has no power over your life, liberty, or property. In the first months of the DPS/Redflex program, DPS pretended that piece of paper was a legal document and actually asked addressees to send in money or contest responsibility. They got in some trouble for this and now all they can ask for is for the addressee to "identify the driver".

Identifying the driver is not a requirement of Arizona law or regulation. It has been the practice of various agencies around the state that are using automated photo enforcement to ask the addressee of the notice or complaint to provide a photocopy of his driver's license as evidence that he is not the driver. If he submits this to the agency, they will reply (normally within a couple of weeks) with a mailed notice that the case has been dismissed or that the evidence was not accepted as proof. And this communication between you and the agency can be construed as waiver of service (more on this later.)

If the defendant makes contact with the court or the government agency about the ticket, he may have waived legal service of summons and complaint. I haven't heard of agencies having much success with this, but it could be just a matter of time before the evidence they put forward about a telephone conversation alleged to be with the defendant or even stronger, a letter the agency received that said so and so and then the overwhelmed justices of the peace use this to say you have waived service and that you failed to appear and the justice enters default judgement against the defendant.

If the defendant does NOT APPEAR at the court on the appointed day and time, the court will decide what to do. A way to see what the court decided is to search the court's website. For Maricopa County, the URL is http://www.superiorco...­ For other counties, use Google to find the Justice Court for the county where the camera was located. It may take a phone call in some counties to find out the status. If the defendant identifies himself in this phone call (sometimes unavoidable), the court clerk is likely to try to get some money from him or to set up a payment plan or if that doesn't work, try to set up a hearing date. The defendant doesn't have to do anything.

A few days after the appear date, if the website shows a Case Status of Adjudicated or Terminated, it is over. If it shows something else, then the case is still active and it is likely that the agency will attempt to serve the defendant with a summons and complaint for the case.

The time frame for the service to occur is 120 days from the filing of the complaint with the court. The official filing date is on the website and it is usually within a few days after the "Date Issued/Mailed" on the complaint that the defendant received in the mail. It is not 120 days from the date of the alleged violation.

Arizona allows "substitute" service to cohabitating adults. If the server sees an adult (loosely defined as older teenagers too) in the house/premises but is unable to get physically close to them and give them the summons, they can leave it on the doorstep or tape it to the door, etc.

I believe that most of the current overload on the courts is because DPS/Redflex is having difficulty working within the 120 days. If they set earlier appear dates, and the defendant does not appear, that gives more time for the process servers to find them. If DPS were to schedule the appear dates for a balanced and reasonable workload on the courts, the 120 days would likely have already passed.

If the defendant DOES appear on the original appear date, don't expect the case to be heard that day, especially in the swamped Maricopa County Justice of the Peace Courts. It will likely be scheduled for some other time, sometimes months out. Requesting a hearing can also be done by the defendant via mail in advance of the appear date; there should be a section on the paperwork that came with the complaint. Sending this request for a hearing implicitly or explicitly waives service of summons to appear and the defendant must now appear or request a continuance and get written notice of the granted continuance. If the defendant fails to appear at any point after waiving service, the case is over and default judgement will be entered against the defendant, even if the first class mailed envelope giving the date of the hearing was never received by the defendant. Only for "good reason" or "manifest injustice" might a failure to appear judgement be set aside. "I never got the letter" probably won't work.

Default judgement without payment typically means that the defendant's driver license will be suspended and lots of additional fees will be added on top of the amount showing on the ticket (doubling or more the original amount).

Appeal is possible. Of course, the reason for appeal has to have its basis in fact or law presented during the hearing or be an alleged error committed by the court. This is enough for another page in the FPRFD.

Until then...
A former member
Post #: 20
Arizona allows "substitute" service to cohabitating adults. If the server sees an adult (loosely defined as older teenagers too) in the house/premises but is unable to get physically close to them and give them the summons, they can leave it on the doorstep or tape it to the door, etc.

I'm not sure this is totally correct because it seems to be so ambiguous. So much opportunity for fraud.

What is to stop any process server from simply taping every summons to each of our front doors? If this is all they needed, they can simple lie and say, "Yes, I taped it to the door, however there were several adults inside who would not come to the door".

Resistance is *NOT...
user 10082077
Scottsdale, AZ
Post #: 4
Arizona allows "substitute" service to cohabitating adults. If the server sees an adult (loosely defined as older teenagers too) in the house/premises but is unable to get physically close to them and give them the summons, they can leave it on the doorstep or tape it to the door, etc.

I'm not sure this is totally correct because it seems to be so ambiguous. So much opportunity for fraud.

What is to stop any process server from simply taping every summons to each of our front doors? If this is all they needed, they can simple lie and say, "Yes, I taped it to the door, however there were several adults inside who would not come to the door".

Re-reading what I wrote, the only part that I would re-write is "Arizona allows"; it would be better stated, "process servers are getting away with". I haven't researched it thoroughly and will try to get some more concrete evidence to refute or back up my statement. One thing I forgot to mention is that if the process server has gotten close but not been able to serve the summons, they can be part of the motion to the court for alternative service, which the "cohabitating adults" type of service would be one of those alternatives.

I know of cases where the photo radar ticket addressee never saw the process server, but something like this happened. A girlfriend or other adult in the house sees a man she doesn't recognize come to the door and then leave and then she finds the summons by the front door and just throws it away. At a later traffic stop, the "defendant" finds out his license was suspended which is not a pleasant situation.

In one specific case, the person filed with the court that he had never been properly served. At the hearing, the City of Tempe attorney, Redflex, and the process server huddled and then asked that the charges be dismissed and the default judgement be set aside. The Tempe magistrate did not seem happy at all and spoke sternly to the three of them. That cleared things up in Tempe, but then he had to take that court order to the other city to get that complaint dismissed and then to MVD to get his license reinstated and then mail all of it to his insurance company to prove that he did nothing wrong. There was no claim by the process server of alternative service in this case - just sheepish silence.

All this trouble and stress for this man because these corrupt organizations (governments, Redflex and process servers are playing the odds - they are betting that more people will give in and pay all the fees than those who fight the injustice and win. These gangsters will need to watch themselves as the courts are starting to see a pattern as the victims come forward.

It is a travesty and we all need to do all we can to put an end to it worldwide.
A former member
Post #: 1
Helpful, but if process servers simply leave and throw the document in the garbage claiming to have served someone, like the child who appeared at my door and left, what about the proof? I got him on three cameras at three different angles picking his nose, looking impatient and leaving without any dropping anything. I was not at home, and it has been a dozen days since one has retuned, so I wonder if my license will be suspended, for Tempe will not play the internet info, so how can I know if a ruling has been passed?
user 8463368
Scottsdale, AZ
Post #: 43
One thing I really like about this site is how everyone is willing to give their time and effort to help others. I know how long it takes to draw one of those up as I too have written a photo radar 101, so thanks for the time and effort. Mine starts out a little different than yours... I tried to put myself in the average citizens position starting with the difference between civil and criminal.

My thinking was if people look past the official DPS star or police logo and realize this is a civil action it puts one more at ease.

I think your info is very well thought out and a good read. The first part of mine is a little different, not better, I just approach it differently...but for what it is worth, here is an excerpt:


The governing statute on traffic citations is the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S), title 28. Every citation will have the relevant A.R.S statute listed on the citation. This is what you are accused of doing. One very common citation for example is A.R.S 28-701.a which is “speed greater than reasonable and prudent” but commonly referred to as “speeding”.

Most traffic citations are civil violations. This is different than a criminal charge. You can not be arrested for a civil violation alone. A civil violation is basically the State filing a civil suit against you and the fine is the financial judgment. In every civil lawsuit the plaintiff (state) must a legal cause of action against the defendant (you).

With a traffic ticket the cause of action is the alleged violation of the relevant ARS title 28 statue. It is important you understand this. On a civil matter, the burden of proof is less that with criminal. On a civil matter, who ever has the preponderance (51%) of the evidence wins. You should also understand the legal language of your case- on a civil traffic citation you are either “responsible” or “not responsible”. Try not to use the terms guilty or not guilty, that is only for criminal matters and the court will correct you if you use those terms.

This is a great advantage to the state because all the state has to do is prove by 51% of the evidence that they are right. Yeah right…in reality, the judge will always give the traffic cop or reflex employee the advantage.

OK- if you do not get this next part re-read it until it sinks in: You need to start thinking about your citation as a civil matter. Lose the idea that you have done something wrong, or that the police are involved. To most law abiding people this is a hard thing to do.

Let me give you an example: Your next door neighbor files a small claims suite against you alleging your motorcycle makes too much noise and is disturbing his peace. He wants you to pay $180 to him. Would you just go write him a check? More than likely you would be outraged and you would certainly go to court over it.

So why then would you allow the state to just send you a letter telling you to send them $180? I will tell you why; most people think of it as a police matter (very scary) and have no idea of how civil traffic citations work in Arizona.

So- if you think that you were driving in an unsafe manner and need to pay $180 or spend four hours in traffic school and pay higher insurance rates; then read no further. However, if you are ready to stand up and fight the revenue machine known as photo radar this information will be helpful.

Let’s get started.

The first thing you need to be familiar with is what are you accused of doing! It is amazing that very few people actually look up the legal language of the statute. How can you expect to make an informed decision without this? It’s free; find it at http://www.azleg.stat...­

On every traffic complaint you will see the statute you are accused of violating. Since this is a traffic citation, it will be the Arizona Revised Statutes or A.R.S title 28. As I said earlier, a very common one is A.R.S. 701a commonly referred to as “speeding”. On your citation is will read “Speed greater than reasonable and prudent.” This is important because it defines what you are accused of doing. Notice it does not say exceeding the posted speed limit. There is a reason for this.

In AZ, expect certain area like school zones and residential areas you are responsible for keeping your own speed at a reasonable and prudent manner.

Receiving the ticket in the mail:
If you have received a photo radar citation in the mail, go ahead and open it, but do not respond or call the court. When you open the letter you will see a very scary and official looking "NOTICE OF VIOLATION." You will see words like “your license may be suspended” and your options are to pay the fine, tell the court you are going to fight or go to traffic school. They leave out the fact that mailing is not legal service and this is a “violation” not a “traffic complaint.” There is a big legal difference.

A.R.S. 28- 1593d defines the difference. I want you to understand is that the notice of violation has a different legal definition than a traffic complaint (a ticket).


user 8463368
Scottsdale, AZ
Post #: 46
OK- I will post it in the files section.

I am looking forward to part 2 from Stacy.

I also have been following Dave's fight with the city of Scottsdale. In my writing I talk about filing motions---- that seems to be the only way to get the court's to take your concerns seriously. He is the perfect example of a non lawyer who is feed up with the photo radar scam. If you have not already, read his motions in the file section- in my opinion he is nailing them with his arguments. You know, a hundred "Dave's" would send a powerful message that not only are we willing to get this on the ballot, be we are not afraid to take them on inside their sacred traffic court.

Powell G.
Phoenix, AZ
Post #: 138
OK- I will post it in the files section.

Thank you rudolph! (Word DOC)

I too expect some day to finally be served. When that happens I will hit the books, this web site, the Supreme Courts Rules of Procedure, and the ARS to learn and document as much of the process as I can. I have a few ideas as well. But no way am I doing it until I have been served. So for now I will continue to read the efforts and thoughts of others. But when it is my turn, I will boilerplate as much of my efforts as possible so others can use it as a template to make sure all of their Rights are thoroughly respected by the process:-D. It is the only game in town.
A former member
Post #: 1
The Town of Star Valley sent out an:

"Arizona Traffic Ticket and Complaint"

for the Star Valley Magistrate Court. It is for "Speed Greater than reasonable and prudent" it does not record the method by which the speed was measured or any other information that it was photo radar except an accompanying page that has a complaint number and is titled:

"Town of Star Valley Photo Enforcement Program"

Here is the question:

Is this a valid citation, it was sent by mail.

I live in a different county...

Advice please...
user 8463368
Scottsdale, AZ
Post #: 51
The citation is valid, as far as photo radar goes. Don't confuse valid with your legal obligation.

You have not been properly served. By that I mean the court will not take jurisdiction unless you either voluntarily respond or are personally served or served by alternate service, which in your case, would be by certified mail. (see the files section for all the details) Because it is a complaint and not a "violation"- your 120 days started from the date of violation and then the statue of limitation kicks in.

I would not be accepting any certified mail for a few months.

If you do get served, then you now have to either fight the cite, go to school or pay it. You can no longer just ignore it.

I doubt Star Valley has the resources to hire process servers. Besides, they fit the definition of a speed trap in my opinion. Both cameras are at the end of a hill and come off hwy 89A. When they first put up the poles they were painted silver, shortly thereafter, they painted them a dark brown to match the background. Even if you are looking, they are hard to see. They are interested in the revenue, not slowing anyone down. Thieves on the side of the road... screw em.
A former member
Post #: 201
"I doubt Star Valley has the resources to hire process servers."

The city is not usually the one who hires the process server. On the affidavit of service I looked at, It said the process service company received the information from Redflex. Remember Redflex has their hand in EVERY part of the process. I'm sure they get a mark up on the process servers fee. Besides that. If Redflex hires the process server. Then that gives them another level of opportunity for corruption. And you know they are not going to pass that up.
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