This is a letter I wrote to sponsors of Arizona H.B. 2579 ("Photo Radar Prohibition") encouraging them to move the bill forward in legislative session so we can ban all the photo enforcement programs across Arizona. I'm not a lawyer, but these are my views on why the program must be terminated. 

I encourage you to write to your state representatives as they will be discussing this bill in its entirety soon and your voice will make an impact. 

You can read the bill yourself here: http://goo.gl/V5Crm

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Hello all,

I am writing to you in regards to HB2579 and why I am opposed to automated photo enforcement of traffic violations. While I recognize the narrative of the photo enforcement system is to prevent fatalities while providing a revenue stream for Arizona, I can't help but find errors in its application on Arizona highways and city streets. Here are several reasons why I urge you to move this bill forward into legislation effectively banning photo enforcement across the State of Arizona: 

1. Unequal enforcement of Arizona Traffic Laws.
The photo enforcement system is inherently flawed in its application of traffic laws. In Arizona, the operator of a motor vehicle is responsible for any and all moving violations. However, under photo enforcement, the operator is not responsible for their activities; the registered owner receives the notification via non-registered US mail. The photo enforcement laws in their current form provide exceptions for out of state motorists, cars bearing a commercial license plate and state government vehicles. Prior to the photo enforcement program, these operators would be justly held responsible for their violations. Under normal circumstances, an out of state motorist is held to the same degree as Arizona residents (e.g., 28-701), but photo enforcement policies automatically discard such recorded violations and have no legal jurisdiction because the operator did not get served by a sworn peace officer. 

2. Commercial intent under the color of official government business. 
The companies, Redflex and ATS, are for-profit corporations who contract their services for municipalities. Their marketing materials, "violation notices", are merely waivers of service and are bearing the insignia of the State of Arizona and associated law enforcement agencies for the sole purpose of collecting revenue without due process of the law. If this wasn't generating revenue for the State of Arizona, it would be investigated by the Attorney General for deceptive and unfair business practices, and at worst, under the RICO Act. 

3. When challenging a photo enforcement ticket in civil court, it is a conspired battle.
When citizens contest their photo enforcement ticket, a paid witness makes statements against the defendant. This witness is not a peace officer, nor were they made familiar with the circumstances, environment or other adverse driving conditions. Defendants accused of a crime, whether civil or criminal nature, have the right to challenge their accuser. The commercial representative for these photo enforcement companies is not party to the traffic complaint. It is my understanding that bribing a witness is a crime, so why is the State allowed to do it? 

4. Photo enforcement violates the privacy of all citizens, even law-abiding ones.
It is a well-known fact that all footage is obtained from such cameras are held on file for at least 120 days. This footage is held by a corporation with financial interest. I (and many other citizens) have not consented to our photographic images to be used for commercial purposes. While there is no expectation of privacy on public streets,consent must be obtained by all parties if their photos/videos are used for commercial purposes. Redflex/ATS are commercial entities. 

5. Photo enforcement provides a false sense of security in the name of "safety."
A camera can not render medical relief in the event of an accident. The footage obtained from photo enforcement cameras is not transmitted into the ADOT traffic center and there is no live-monitoring of intersections. In the event of an accident, a peace officer may provide and/or request emergency services for all parties. If the purpose/intent was to guarantee safety, then the fines would be $2000 per violation. It isn't. The fine levied against taxpayers is small enough that they can burden it in most circumstances, but high enough to generate a sizable amount of revenue for the State of Arizona. 

6. There has not been a comprehensive, independent, study performed on the State of Arizona on the impact of photo enforcement. 
The studies that have been provided have been funded by corporations with a financial interest at stake. Conclusions from these questionable studies have stated that there are decreases in fatalities and/or serious accidents since the inception of the photo enforcement programs. However, they have not studied Arizona, where much of the state contains rural highways and lightly-congested city streets. There has not been a study published using current data (2009 - 2013) obtained "prior to", "during" and "post-removal" of photo enforcement cameras via Arizona Department of Public Safety.

7. EXAMPLE: The City of Tempe had terminated their photo enforcement program due to financial costs and a legal dispute. 
When municipalities enter into legal contracts where they must pay a fixed-rate on photo enforcement camera leases, they can end up with negative revenue. When the cameras have accomplished their stated objectives, the camera operates at a net loss. It was stated in an interview that each camera that was leased to the City of Tempe cost $15,000 monthly. This means that each camera must achieve at least 83 convictions per month (at $180 per violation), plus any additional costs paid to state, county and for-profit corporations. By contrast, I would find it hard to believe that a police officer earns anywhere close to $180,000 ($15K x 12) annually. 

8. EXAMPLE: The City of Tucson is improperly enforcing Federal MUTCD, Arizona MUTCD Supplement or ADOT Sign & Marketing Requirements.
My brother in law erroneously received a photo enforcement violation that alleged he ran a red light. He was in the left turn lane, entered in the intersection under a green light (no arrow). Then when the light cycle changed (four reds), he was in the intersection and was cited by the photo enforcement camera. The law states that he had entered the intersection and all directions of traffic must wait for him to safely clear the intersection. He had paid the ticket voluntarily. Certain intersections in Tucson have been illegally marked with "WAIT" on them. There is no standard describing this implementation in any of the above documents. It is my best guess that this practice was implemented to discourage drivers from entering the intersection despite being legally and safely permitted to do so. Essentially this adds an additional line to the intersection, confusing drivers and ultimately profiting from law-abiding citizens. 

For examples #7 and #8, these are the result of overzealous municipalities that wish to generate revenue at the expense of their constituents. The slippery slope of photo enforcement happens when there is revenue generation, limited oversight and overloaded courts that are unable to keep up with the caseload placed upon them. 

My conclusion, which I hope you agree, is that the photo enforcement program in Arizona has failed. It failed to make an impact on deterring unsafe driving behavior; it failed to generate sustainable revenue; it failed to protect its citizens' rights; ultimately, it consumed far too many resources to maintain with little benefit to show from it. 

I hope you consider my views as a strong supporter of Arizona, Phoenix and civil liberties. I realize that the financial impact of this decision may reduce the budget allocated to political organizations and the General fund, but we can not sell ourselves out to an offshore corporation to profit from our tax dollars while offering no other value to the State of Arizona or its citizens.

Sincerely,

Joseph Manna
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