What Happens if You Ignore a Photo Radar Ticket in Arizona?


Arizona lawmakers are currently proposing a bill to eliminate photo radar throughout the state. The use of photo radars has been an ongoing debate for years, with many claiming them to be intrusive, while others regard them as necessary for public safety. If you have recently received a photo radar ticket in Arizona, you may be wondering if you need to pay it or can simply ignore it. While photo radar tickets are enforceable in the state, it may be possible to avoid payment.

What Are Photo Radar Tickets?

The Red Light Camera Enforcement Program in Arizona is a traffic safety program that uses innovative digital camera and traffic violation detection technology to help decrease the frequency of collisions and reduce the number of people that run red lights. Red light cameras are installed at intersections in cities throughout Arizona, such as Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa, Paradise Valley, El Mirage, and Chandler.

How do these red light cameras work? The cameras are activated by sensors located just before the intersection and are triggered when a vehicle enters the intersection when the traffic light is red. If a driver attempts to run a red light, the camera takes several photographs, along with a brief video. Once reviewed and validated by police, a complaint is issued, and a ticket is sent to the alleged offender.

Photo radar cameras operate round-the-clock and in all weather conditions. If you receive a photo radar ticket, it should contain images of your vehicle, your license plate, and the driver. Every intersection that contains red light cameras is visibly marked with warning signs.

Mailed Tickets vs. Served Citations

There are two main ways that you could receive a radar ticket in Arizona. The ticket will either be mailed or served. Arizona law states that the county has 60 days from the date of the violation to file a citation with the courts, and an additional 90 days after the filing date to serve you a citation.

If you receive a mailed ticket, you may be able to ignore it if it was not sent and filed by the court, meaning it is not a certified court document. Although the photo radar company can still choose to impose fines if not paid by the deadline, these fees can not be enforced unless filed by the county court.

To serve a citation, the court must first file a violation and hire a process server to give you the citation, either directly or to someone of “reasonable age” in your home (14 years or older). If the county fails to serve the citation without the specified time limit, you may not have to pay the fine.

Can I Ignore a Notice of Violation?

If you have received a radar ticket in Arizona, you can choose to pay the fine or fight it. You may decide to ignore the notice of violation, especially if you received it through the mail. In many jurisdictions, the citation must be served to be legally enforceable. There have also been cases where the court will throw out the case if the accused offender did not receive the notice within the 90-day deadline.

If you receive a notice of violation and you do not acknowledge or sign the form, a process server may come to your home. If this situation occurs, you could be fined an additional $25 to $40. However, tickets are generally removed from the system within 90 days. If you are a repeat offender, there may be an investigation and you could face more serious charges, such as obstruction of justice.

If you have been served a violation and fail to pay it within the specified deadline, there may be consequences. Your license could potentially be suspended, and if you chose to continue driving on a suspended license, you could face a fine of up to $2,500 and up to six months in jail. You can also choose to fight the ticket if you believe that you were wrongly ticketed and have evidence to prove your case.

Fighting a Radar Ticket in Arizona

If you were properly served a notice of violation but still want to contest it, your case may go to a civil traffic hearing. These hearings generally involve several parties, including the people who want to convict you, the defense and your attorney (if you choose to hire one), and the judge who will make the ultimate ruling in the case based on the evidence presented by both sides.

During a civil traffic hearing, the prosecution will first present their evidence against you, which may include the original ticket, photos and videos of the driver and vehicle, and documents that detail traffic speeds and patterns. The prosecution may also detail the nature and conditions of the area, and identify points of interest, such as nearby parks, schools, and crosswalks.

Once this portion of the hearing is completed, the defendant will have an opportunity to ask any questions about the information that was presented. After questioning, it is the defense’s turn to present their testimony and evidence. The judge will then have an opportunity to ask any follow-up questions to either side before issuing a final ruling in the case.

Certain defenses may work at the hearing, such as arguing that the evidence does not show what the prosecution says it shows. In some cases, a defendant may be able to demonstrate that they were not the driver. Having evidence that you were not in the vicinity at the time of the offense can help prove your case. Another defense is that the traffic light or camera malfunctioned.

Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your criminal case today.

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