Photo Enforcement

How Is Photo Enforcement Used?

In Arizona, motorists may encounter photo enforcement of both speeding and traffic signal violations. Photo enforcement cases have many unique aspects. In a classic traffic violation situation, an officer issues a citation and then delivers the citation to the appropriate court. The officer’s citation serves the dual function of charging the traffic violation and as notice to the motorist. In photo enforcement, notice must be accomplished and proven by other means.

It’s Not As Simple As Exceeding The Posted Limit

In Arizona, the simple fact that you are alleged to be traveling in excess of the posted speed limit is not sufficient to fulfill the law. A posted speed limit means that the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has determined what it believes is the maximum reasonable speed for that road. When the state attempts to prove you responsible for a civil speeding violation, it must prove that you drove at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances, conditions, and actual and potential hazards then existing.

Based on that legal standard, you can also be cited for going too slow. The simple fact that you are alleged to be going 70 mph in a posted 65 mph zone is not sufficient to fulfill Arizona law. The state must introduce evidence about the circumstances, conditions and hazards. Differences can exist between photo-enforced speeding violations on city streets and on state highways. Different jurisdictions and municipalities employ different methods and different private entities to run their photo enforcement programs.

There are many subtle nuances and differences in how photo enforcement is employed throughout the state. It is important to work with a Phoenix defense lawyer who is experienced and familiar with these differences.

What Defenses Are Available?

Weak evidence – Photo enforcement of speed violations often lacks the ability to introduce evidence about the circumstances, conditions and hazards at trial. The state’s witness is frequently unable to introduce evidence about the circumstances, conditions and hazards then existing because it was not documented or recorded. Not introducing or not being able to introduce this necessary evidence can lead to dismissal.

Proving driver identity – Identity is often a challenging element for the state in photo enforcement cases. The state goes about proving the identity of the driver by issuing a citation to the registered owner of the vehicle in question. Through the Motor Vehicle Division, the state will then acquire the address and driver’s license photo of the registered owner. Typically, the only evidence the state possesses to establish that the registered owner is in fact the driver of the vehicle is to compare the two photos. MVD photos are often outdated. Photo enforcement photos often involve obscurement by rearview mirrors, sunglasses, hats, etc. Making a positive identification based on the two photographs can be difficult. If identification cannot be proven according to the appropriate applicable legal standard, the case will be dismissed.

Proving the vehicle – Our roads are traveled by many vehicles often in proximity to one another. The state must also prove that the vehicle alleged to have run a red light or committed another violation is the same vehicle that the citation was issued to.

Photo enforcement equipment – It may be possible to attack the accuracy and credibility of the street camera equipment. Many cities and police departments pay private photo enforcement agencies to carry out photo enforcement and prosecution in court. These private agencies are paid from the money collected. This fact gives rise to bias and motive arguments. Mistakes are made and errors have been discovered, resulting in the improper ticketing of thousands of motorists. To find out more about fighting photo enforcement, contact our traffic violations attorney to schedule a free initial consultation.

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