DPS tweaking photo-radar enforcement
By Paul Davenport
The Associated Press
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 10.24.2008
PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Public Safety's director says vehicle owners who aren't behind the wheel when their vehicles are photographed speeding don't have to identify the actual violators and state law shouldn't be changed to make owners responsible.
DPS Director Roger Vanderpool also told The Associated Press that he wants at least one change to the law but that details of the state's new photo speed enforcement program are still being worked out.
Those include how to go after out-of-state drivers who ignore notices mailed by Arizona authorities, Vanderpool said Thursday.
"I think that's Chapter 3 or 4 of the ongoing book that's being written," Vanderpool said, referring to pending implementation issues.
Arizona launched its first-in-the-nation statewide photo speed enforcement program with a handful of mobile units deployed in the Phoenix area last month. Mobile units are being added gradually along with stationary cameras along some Phoenix-area freeways.
Under the program, Redflex Traffic Systems by January will deploy 60 mobile units statewide as well as 40 stationary cameras at points selected to reduce traffic speeds on approaches to highway junctions.
Gov. Janet Napolitano, who had the authorization enacted in June, and Vanderpool say the program is intended to improve public safety, not to produce state revenue as some critics charge.
The Legislature should change the law to permit reporting of violations by holders of commercial driver's licenses, Vanderpool said.
The authorization law prohibits courts processing civil speed enforcement citations from reporting them to the Motor Vehicle Division. That means violators don't have points added to their driving records and face no insurance consequences.
The prohibition doesn't apply to criminal citations for drivers going at least 85 mph on interstate highways or more than 15 mph above posted speed limits, Vanderpool said.
However, federal regulations require states to share information on all violations by drivers with commercial licenses, Vanderpool said.
Arizona requires commercial driver's licenses for drivers of heavy vehicles, those capable of carrying 16 or more people and those carrying hazardous materials. Employers can require them for employers driving other vehicles, such as construction equipment.
Vanderpool said he's not proposing to report violations by noncommercial drivers, at least for now.
Nor does he think owners of vehicles should be responsible for citations if the owners weren't driving when the vehicles were photographed by speed cameras.
Vanderpool said "as a matter of integrity" vehicle owners should identify the speeders, but that the owners don't have an obligation to do so.
He said he's not seeking to change state law so that Arizona would make photo citations, like parking tickets, the vehicle owner's responsibility.
"Personally myself, I don't like that because people loan their cars out and if I've loaned my car to you, I wasn't the one speeding. You were the one speeding," Vanderpool said. "I think that takes away, to me, some of what I feel is the due process of holding the individual responsible for their action rather than whoever owns the vehicle."
He said businesses that own vehicles don't have to identify drivers violating the speed limit. However, "most of the trucking companies will want to know" and there could be sanctions for workers, he said.
Likewise, for a parent whose child is photographed speeding, there could be repercussions at home — and potential speed-related accidents prevented — even if the child isn't made to pay the citation.