State Capitol News
11:49 am
Tue February 14, 2012

AZ Drivers May Get to Vote on Traffic Safety Cameras

Voters may finally get a chance to pull the plug on those red light and photo radar cameras. 

Proponents of photo enforcement say it's an effective way to make roads safer without having to hire more police officers. But others see the practice as little more than high-tech speed traps designed largely to make money for local governments. Sen. Steve Yarbrough told his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday of his own self-described horror story while driving through the Rim community of Star Valley.

"It was 6 o'clock in the morning," Yarbrough recalled.  "There wasn't another car in sight. The weather was clear. The speed limit was artificially low. And I got a photo radar ticket that there is not a police officer in this world who would have given me a ticket under those circumstances."

Tickets generally cannot be issued solely for exceeding the posted limit. The law instead makes it illegal to drive above a reasonable and prudent speed. And Yarbrough said if he had been stopped by an officer, he could have made that argument. Yarbrough said he could have fought it in court.

"But the cost of driving back to Star Valley," said the senator, "defending that ticket, the time and the money involved, was far greater than the ticket. So I did what I guess most people do: I wrote a check."

The committee decided to ask voters in November whether they want to make photo enforcement illegal in the state.