Photo Radar Tickets
There are many myths surrounding photo radar tickets. Many people insist that you can safely ignore them (not true). The confusion may arise from the fact that, in some instances, you do not have to respond to a photo radar ticket. It becomes even more confusing when you learn that Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich declared it illegal for third parties (the groups mostly responsible for issuing citations for photo radar tickets) to issue citations unless their employees were private detectives. This is due to an Arizona law that requires anyone gathering evidence for use in court be either a police officer or a private investigator.
So, what are the facts about photo radar in Arizona?
Can You Ignore a Photo Radar Ticket?
You should never ignore a citation, no matter what your best friend’s sister claims you can get away with. Even though Arizona courts ruled in 2016 that third parties had no authority to issue citations, Arizona drivers continue to receive photo radar tickets. This is because the cities themselves now manage their photo safety programs, issuing their own citations and cutting out the middleman.
Don’t expect these programs to end anytime soon. The state has essentially elected to allow each city and town to decide for itself regarding photo radar. In addition, with so many of Phoenix area localities generating millions in photo enforcement revenue, don’t expect to see those cameras disappear anytime soon.
What Are Your Options?
If you have no points on your license, and it’s a simple speeding ticket, you may opt to simply pay the fine, attend Defensive Driving School to keep the points from hitting your license, and move on. Of course, doing so is an admission of guilt, and typically results in a bump in your auto insurance premium (for an average of around three years).
If you receive the complaint in the mail and ignore it, the court has 90 days to serve you (called service of process). The court sends a properly licensed person to deliver the ticket to either you or someone who lives with you.
Mailed citations typically include coupons. If you communicate with the court in writing, such as by returning one of those coupons, you waive your right to service of process. Some courts even consider a phone call a waiver of service.
Hiring Liberty Law to fight the ticket ideally takes place immediately upon receipt of the citation, to ensure you do not accidentally waive your rights or take another action that can harm your case. Hiring an attorney takes on greater importance if you have multiple tickets and are at risk of losing your license, or if you have a CDL.
What Happens if You Ignore the Ticket?
If you communicated with the court at all after receiving the ticket, you likely waived your right to service and accepted responsibility for the ticket (though not guilt). If served within 90 days and you did not communicate with the court, you are responsible for the citation.
Failure to respond to a traffic citation in the given time typically results in license suspension. You also face license suspension for acquiring 8 points against your license (a speeding ticket carries 3 points).
The Photo Radar Controversy
Many people, including some lawmakers, compare photo radar to a tax on citizens, especially with certain locations profiting significantly from the program and even making changes in the operation of their traffic signals. Paradise Valley, for example, faced accusations of shortening the duration of its yellow light cycle in order to maximize the number of red light tickets it issued. The result was lengthening the cycle by more than 33 percent (from 3 seconds to 4.3 seconds) and refunding fines paid on over 1,000 tickets. The frightening part of this scenario is that such tricks make intersections more dangerous, when the purported goal is making them safer.
Paradise Valley isn’t alone in its decision to milk the program. Scottsdale claims that 75 percent of its court cases are civil traffic violations. Citizens and lawmakers across the state claim that photo enforcement programs infringe on Arizonan’s right to face their accuser.
Photo Radar Across the Phoenix Valley
Arizona allows each city or town to run its own photo enforcement program. Some use only red light enforcement; some issue speeding tickets as well; still others add “no right turn on red” cameras to their program.
The city of Chandler has photo enforcement cameras at 12 intersections, each programmed to capture speed and red light violations. Chandler PD selected the locations with the highest number of accidents due to speeding and the running of red lights.
- Alma School Road and Queen Creek Road
- Alma School Road and Ray Road
- Alma School Road and Warner Road
- Arizona Avenue and Ocotillo Road
- Arizona Avenue and Ray Road
- Arizona Avenue and Warner Road
- Chandler Boulevard and Dobson Road
- Chandler Boulevard and Kyrene Road
- McQueen Road and Queen Creek Road
- Ray Road and Dobson Road
- Ray Road and McClintock Road
- Ray Road and Rural Road
The city of El Mirage uses both fixed and mobile photo enforcement to nab speeders and red light violators. The mobile units may be anywhere as clearly marked police vehicles. You find the fixed units at the following three intersections:
- El Mirage Road and Northern Avenue
- El Mirage Road and Olive Avenue
- Thunderbird Road and 129th Avenue
The town of Gilbert has fixed photo enforcement cameras located at three intersections:
- Guadalupe Road and Pecos Road
- Guadalupe Road and Val Vista Drive
- Higley Road and Elliott Road
The city of Glendale uses photo enforcement to capture red light violations in the name of reducing accidents. The fine for these tickets is $212, as of 2017. Glendale does not issue any citations other than red light violations through this program. You find these cameras at the following:
- Glendale Avenue and 35th Avenue
- Northern Avenue and 85th Avenue
- Peoria Avenue and 59th Avenue
The city of Mesa uses both fixed digital cameras and streaming video cameras in its photo safety program, checking for both speeding and red light violations. In addition, Mesa uses school zone safety cameras that operate 24 hours a day and capture 10-second video of violations.
Speed and red light enforcement locations:
- Alma School Road and Guadalupe
- Broadway Road and Extension
- Broadway Road and Stapley Drive
- Country Club Drive and Southern Avenue
- Country Club Drive and University Drive
- Gilbert Road and Baseline Road
- Gilbert Road and McKellips Road
- Greenfield Road and Main Street
- Higley Road and Southern Avenue
- Lindsay Road and University Drive
- Mesa Drive and Broadway Road
- Power Road and Broadway Road
- Power Road and Hampton Avenue
- Power Road and Main Street
- Power Road and McKellips Road
- Power Road and Southern Avenue
- Southern Avenue and Dobson Road
- Stapley Drive and Main Street
- Stapley Drive and Southern Avenue
- University Drive and Mesa Drive
School zone locations:
- Franklin at Brimhall
- Fremont Junior High School
- Mesa High School
- Porter Elementary School
- Rhodes Junior High School
- Skyline High School
The Paradise Valley Police Department was the country’s first to employ photo radar technology. When the rest of the state put their programs on pause after the Attorney General’s ruling, Paradise Valley continued. Today, Paradise Valley continues to use photo enforcement to capture speed and red light violations.
- Lincoln Drive and 68th Street
- Lincoln Drive and Invergordon Road
- Lincoln Drive and Palo Cristi Road
- Tatum Boulevard and Lincoln Drive
- Tatum Boulevard and McDonald Drive
The city of Phoenix uses both fixed red light cameras and photo radar vans set up mainly around school zones to detect speeding. The vans also use streaming video to document the driver, vehicle, and license plate.
The vans are not always in the same place. You find the red light cameras at the following intersections:
- 12th Street and Camelback Road
- 16th Street and Jefferson Street
- 24th Street and Thomas Road
- 35th Avenue and Cactus Road
- 35th Avenue and Glendale Avenue
- 35th Avenue and McDowell Road
- 50th Street and Ray Road
- 53rd Avenue and Indian School Road
- 67th Avenue and McDowell Road
- 7th Street and Bell Road
- Central Avenue and McDowell Road
- Tatum Boulevard and Thunderbird Road
Scottsdale began using photo enforcement in 1996 as a safety program to reduce speeding and red light infractions. The city use AAA Photo Safety, Inc. for its process service. You find fixed cameras at the following locations:
- Dynamite Boulevard (10300 block)
- Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Cactus Road
- Franklin Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Greenway Hayden Loop
- Hayden Road and Chaparral Road
- McDowell Road and Scottsdale Road
- Pima Road and Hualapai Drive
- Rio Verde (11300 block)
- Scottsdale Road and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard
- Scottsdale Road and McDowell Road
- Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard
- Scottsdale Road and Thomas Road
- Shea Boulevard and 120th Street
- Shea Boulevard and 90th Street
- Thomas Road and Hayden/80th Street