Panel OKs dumping state's photo-radar system in 2010
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 03.26.2009
PHOENIX — A House panel voted Wednesday to make the new statewide photo-radar system go away. But not just yet.
On a 6-4 vote, the Appropriations Committee approved legislation to make the use of any type of photo-enforcement system on a state road illegal after Sept. 30, 2010.
That covers not just the 36 fixed and 42 mobile cameras operated by the state Department of Public Safety, but any cameras now operated by cities and counties on state roads. That includes not just highways but even two-lane stretches that go through communities.
Local governments could still have photo radar — but only on the streets they control.
The bill now goes to the full House.
Rep. Sam Crump, R-Anthem, said he actually wants to get rid of the cameras as soon as possible. But he noted the contract signed by DPS with Redflex Traffic Systems allows the company to demand reimbursement for its installation costs if the contract, which took effect late last September, is canceled within the first two years.
Letting the contract self- destruct, Crump said, makes more financial sense.
"Especially in this economic climate, nobody wants to be writing a check from the state back to the company for early termination of contract," he said.
But HB 2106 does impose some new restrictions and conditions on the operation of the system until it disappears.
One spells out that citations cannot be issued unless a motorist is clocked going at least 11 miles per hour over the posted limit. That is the current DPS policy but not set in statute.
Potentially more significant, it would shut down the video cameras that now monitor and record traffic around the clock.
Lawmakers learned only earlier this year that each photo-radar site takes not only still photos of speeders but also provides "streaming video" that is kept by the DPS for 90 days. That raised questions of privacy and who might have access to the videos.
Wednesday's vote came over the objections of the Arizona Highway Patrol Association, which lobbies on behalf of DPS officers and civilian employees. Organization President Jimmy Chavez said photo radar is a useful law-enforcement tool for safety.