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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : opinions : columns October 06, 2015

11/28/2012 9:59:00 PM
Column: Photo speeding tickets should be outlawed

Richard F. (Buz) Williams
Courier Columnist

Photo radar and red-light violation tickets aren't nearly as ubiquitous in Arizona as they used to be. Public outcry was probably the biggest reason that the state stopped its use of these devices. Nothing turns the public against a policy more than the perception that it is unfair.

Locally, the municipality of Prescott Valley is still involved in using photo radar to enforce speed limits and so the arguments continue. Do these gadgets assist in reducing accidents by slowing driver's speeds? Do they increase the dangers by causing drivers to hit their brakes when they realize they are entering one of these zones? Or are they revenue-enhancers for the city?

This writer is of the opinion that photo radar is inherently unjust. One of our most important rights, derived from our legal heritage of both Common Law and Constitutional Law, is the right to a vigorous defense. While driving in most jurisdictions is considered a privilege and not a right, the fact remains that if you are subject to a penalty (a loss of freedom and/or a monetary fine), then the right to a vigorous defense should apply.

This is not the case when photo radar is in use. Here's why: There are sometimes valid reasons for exceeding the speed limit. One of those reasons is to avoid a collision. If a citizen is driving along at the speed limit and sees part of a steel belted tire or some other road hazard in the lane ahead, that driver might want to hit the brakes and change lanes. If there are vehicles close behind and next to his or her car, this might not be practical. This driver might have the time and distance to speed up and safely change lanes.

If this driver is then pulled over by a police officer, he or she can explain to the officer the reason for speeding. The officer can then believe the driver's excuse based on evidence or can write the driver a citation. (During my years as a police officer, it didn't occur often, but there were a few occasions when I didn't write a ticket after speaking with the driver). If the driver thinks that the ticket is unjust, he or she can go to traffic court and fight the ticket. The smart driver will write down the reason for speeding immediately and attach it to the ticket so that it can be presented before the court.

Using the same set of facts as above, is the driver going to remember the reason he or she was speeding when opening the mail and finding the citation and photograph 10 days or two weeks later? Hardly. Without some notable incident - like being stopped by an officer or a near collision - most people's memories won't kick in when the citation arrives in the mail. The driver is thus deprived of the best, vigorous and justifiable defense. I know because I have the traffic school receipt to prove it.


Now a bit of personal housecleaning. It has nothing to do with photo radar. A few weeks back, I wrote a column about ethics, which contained an anecdote about me accepting a lead role in a play. A copy of the column was sent to my three sisters. My much older sister, Debby (okay, she's 18 months older than I. All right, alright, Deb is 17 months and 11 days older), also had a part in the same play. She told me that in mentioning this story, I myself wasn't being totally ethical because I left out, she inferred, what Paul Harvey would have called, "the rest of the story." So here it is:

In 1963, the Kentwood Players in the Westchester area of Los Angeles, put on their Christmas play, "The Silver Thread." I won the part of the hero, Cuebert (not the name I would have chosen for a hero). The opening night of any play was put on for the Kentwood Players, which consisted of all of the actors, actresses, directors and stage crew members that produced plays year round at the Westchester Playhouse.

The opening scene was in a mine in which a group of underground trolls are plotting to kidnap the princess. As that scene ends, offstage, I yell my first line, "Never, while I have a tongue to stand on or a foot to speak with." That, of course, was not supposed to be my first line or the line I had memorized. I had inadvertently interchanged the words tongue and foot. Now you all know why I am a retired police officer and not a much-beloved star of stage and screen.

Buz Williams is a retired Long Beach, Calif., police officer who has lived in Prescott since 2004.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Article comment by: Blonde Wife More than you could handle

Why don't you tell her yourself, tough guy. The point trying to be made was the photo radar was a predatory enforcement of local citizens for making money, pure and simple. NO WAY should that street be 25mph, and the police are taking advantage of that. It's a FOUR-LANE ROAD, and the ONLY four-lane road in the state to be 25mph. No, that's not entrapment or anything.

Posted: Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Article comment by: TO: Facts are Irrelevant

Until it does go away tell your blonde wife to slow down...

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Facts in an Opinion page? Please

Now there is something new- you must use facts to voice your opinion? What kind of complete moron thinks that? Opinion: photo radar is about collecting money.
Fact: the legality of photo radar tickets is not only challengable but readily beatable.
Opinion: most of the general public is either too stupid or too scared to stand up to LE when they are participating in a complete FARCE on society.
Fact: the photo radar gravy train will not last much longer.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Ignorant Remarks Indeed

Anyone who believes photo radar is used to "generate revenue" is simply ignorant of the facts. It does not generate revenue for the city. Period. A little research of open source documents will easily confirm that fact.

Of course, there's no need to let facts sway your argument when you'd rather just gripe about it. We all understand you don't like photo radar, but your argument should be based on facts not an emotional response.

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2012
Article comment by: Ignorant Remarks

The commenters on this post are completely lost. Criminalizing a soccer mom for doing 34 in a 25mph zone is a complete farce, like the photo radar ticket she never got in the mail. LE ... feel some need to puff up their chests to act important but no need - this isn't a criminal and you simply don't get that. The real point is what is photo radar for? Generating money. Using a poorly-marked road and taking advantage of the travelers of that road. It's NOT a safety issue, not a public nuisance issue but a MONEY issue. When you start policing the public based on vulnerability, you are becoming what you have sworn to protect us against - a predator. Taking advantage of a weakness that YOU SET UP. The speed limit on that road is ridiculous - any major road like that should be AT LEAST 30mph, and thus the confusion by motorists to speed. Yes, LE is doing a job but their intent lacks integrity and is akin to the common criminal who merely "takes advantage" of an opportunity, like an unlocked house. It represents the lowest of the low.

Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2012
Article comment by: GURU GRUNDO The Bozo act is getting old .

I think someadditional questions that need to be raised and investigated are How much money does PV lose on each ticket? Is there a "kick back" scheme between Redflex and some town politicos? After all, why isolate your town from the rest of the state regarding shoppers and tourists? I remember Skoog admitting in a paper article that each flash LOST the town money and that didn't account for the additional processing fees.

Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2012
Article comment by: Cory Saz

Im not as concerned regarding speed cameras as they are marked quite well. But, I would like to see red light runner cameras on every stop light pole in the world, these (people) that think they're so important can/should pay dearly for their stupidity!

Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2012
Article comment by: SPEEDING IS OUTLAWED

SPEEDING means traveling in excess of a stated maximum speed.

If you and others were law-abiders, you wouldn't have to worry about photo radars, cops hiding in bushes, and all of the other measures that offend you.

Try obeying those laws you might like the freedom it gives you in your driving.

Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2012
Article comment by: J. Walker

@ Danger is Overbearing LE

I'm not sure who tipped over your Cheerios this morning, but you've plainly got issues that extend way beyond the speed camera debate. I sympathize with your concerns on the cameras, but we parted ways when you started all the childish cop bashing. Clearly, your opinion is a little less than objective thus making it irrelevant like so many of the other hysterical rants on here.

Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2012
Article comment by: We Need More Cameras

Support photo enforcement. It's legal, effective at reducing collisions, and best of all, paid for by the violators. If you obey the law, it doesn't affect you whatsoever. I wish all government programs worked this well.

Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2012
Article comment by: common sense driver proud veteran

@ Loop Hole, You state you were "rushing " to pick up your kids. What if some of the other kids waiting to be picked up or walking home were to chase another into the street and you, because of your "EXCESSIVE SPEEDING" hit one of those kids? 37 mph in a 25 mph zone is way too fast, and you SHOULD have got a very stiff fine. PV's law enforcement allows for a very generous, 11 mph over the posted "Speed Limit" (that is speed LIMIT, the maximum legal/allowable speed, not the MINIMUM or suggested speed), and 6 mph over in a school zone. AND, how would you like it if your kids were standing on the side of the road and some other driver was whizzing by at 12 mph over the posted speed limit? Just wondering, but, when you own children's safety becomes an issue, will you then criticize that other speeding driver? In other words, do you have the attitude like so many out there seem to have when they go speeding down a local street, with their "soccer mom" van with its " "baby on board" bumper sticker? One other thing, when you got the 2nd ticket for speeding on Lakeshore, where you didn't see the "flash", due to driving into the sun, wouldn't it have made sense to slow down a bit while being partially blinded by the sun.
I swear, with all aggressive and inattentive drivers, and people's guns going off accidentally, common sense and civil responsibility have almost disappeared in this state! Everyone has a right to feel basically safe when going out on the public roads/highways or into a supermarket, without the threat of being hit by a no-common sense driver or an irresponsible gun toter.

Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2012
Article comment by: Citizen At Large

toss the ticket in the round file
They are unconstitutional trash.

Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2012
Article comment by: Danger is Overbearing LE

Wow- who REALLY struck the nerve? I'm sorry that you and your cronies criminalize every possible lawbreaker because its what you are paid to do BUT not all citizens are criminals. I know most of you have very little education beyond high school so the interpretation of the law can be challenging. A soccer mom doing 9 miles over the speed limit is not a threat to society. Period. Likewise, you and your LE friends are NOT some kind of hero by making her into one, nor are you for the job you volunteered for and get paid to do. Hiding behind the badge is one thing but to be a plain abuser of your responsibilities and take advantage of the citizens you police is disgusting. Clearly you are impressed with no one but yourself, your friends, and maybe your job but to react against a member of the public with such a childish display does not bode well for the rest of us. You should understand that you work for US, the public, and as such you should focus on REAL crime and criminals because calling out soccer moms makes you look weak and desperate. And you sound like a bully.

Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2012
Article comment by: Stephen Donaldson

Wonder how many of the "don't speed" and you will be "ok" comments are really ASTRO posters from the scamera side.

The scamera vendors have been known to do this.


Bill Kroske: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20110517/BLOG48/705179793
Quote: "A poster using the screen name "W Howard" has commented 43 times on our site since June. The unifying themes in these posts are that the cameras are good, that they are making the world safer and that anyone who says otherwise -- particularly Mukilteo initiative activist Tim Eyman -- needs their head examined.

Some readers have suggested "W Howard" has been posting comments as part of a marketing campaign run by American Traffic Solutions, Inc. The Scottsdale-based company contracts to provide enforcement camera services in Lynnwood and Seattle. It had inked a similar deal in Mukilteo last year, then Eyman pushed for a public vote. Upshot: no cameras in Mukilteo, and a spreading movement around Washington that has growing numbers of people asking questions about enforcement camera technology.
Heraldnet.com requires that people who wish to post comments supply us with a live email address at the time they create their user account. "W Howard" gave an address at American Traffic Solutions. It is one used by Bill Kroske, vice president of business development at ATS. Somebody techie here ran down the internet protocol address that's being used for "W Howard's" posts. The electronic trail led straight back to Kroske's company in Scottsdale."



also check out www.motorists.org and camerafraud on Facebook

Posted: Saturday, December 01, 2012
Article comment by: A Dangerous Member of Society

TO: Typical attitude

Nice mature attitude. I must've struck a nerve with you. And you have kids?? Nice lesson you and the wife are teaching them. What a bright future they have...

No reason for someone like you to obey the law, now is there?? Clearly, you know more than the rest of us. We'll see how quick you are to expect enforcement action be taken when someone going only 10 over the limit runs into your wife.

Police are not your enemy. People who feel they can pick and choose which laws they want to ignore are the threat.

Posted: Saturday, December 01, 2012
Article comment by: LE supporter Typical attitude

Oh yeah my wife was a real public nuisance - how dare she drive 35 in a 25 zone!!! How reckless and how endangering to the public! You are a complete fool with your attitude. Irrespective of what they teach you in school, not EVERYONE is a criminal. I feel the MOST dangerous society members we face are those hiding behind a badge, too scared to think anyone has good intentions. You are the loser in this world, buddy. And your LE buddies aren't far behind.

Posted: Saturday, December 01, 2012
Article comment by: TO LE SUPPORTER

I knew you were going to say that.

But, you're a little late. Where ya been"

Predictable and Boring.

Are you paid by the word?

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: TO PV MOM

" If you're license plate & face can be seen it's mailed to you only if you live in county. When they were on the freeways in PHX they didn't send them out of county & in PV they aren't sent out of state."

Which is it?............Does PV send tickets only in-county or only in-state"

Have to wonder how accurate the rest of your information is. .

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: Jason in PV

Such an old, old topic. I don't know why the Courier even prints this stuff time after time. It's simple, if you live here like I do, watch your speed and you won't get "flashed". If you don't and can't handle the streets here, stay away and you can speed and drive recklessly in your own neighborhood. Not too hard to figure out.

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: James Walker

If the posted speed limits are set for maximum safety at the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions - typically 10 or 15 mph higher than currently - there will not be enough violations to pay to install a camera. And safety will improve with smoother traffic flow.
James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: LE Supporter

So far, the only argument I have seen from people who were flashed is that they are selfish and think it is OK to speed through PV and risk everyone's lives as long as there are no officers around. It is very simple. Don't speed. If you do and you get caught, own up to your mistake and deal with it. Throw it out, respond, fight it in court, call your attorney, wait to be served, whatever you chose to do but don't blame it on what you think is "law enforcement at it's worst". It is effective in lowering fatal and injury accidents and ghelps the already poorly staffed police departments monitor dangerous drivers on the roadway. The photo of you driving is the proof. Only the tickets with a clear photo, matched to your license photo, and a clear photo of the plate are even sent out and then served. GPS in cars doesn't provide proof of who the driver is. To those who say they got a ticket and avoid PV or have a habitually speeding spouse who doesn't care about her kids: Good, stay out of PV. It doesn't bother those of us who live here and raise a family. It makes me feel safer and happy that someone is looking out for the safety of my family by not having you driving around town. Stop the whining and be an adult about your mistake how ever you chose to be.

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: TO: Regarding Processs Servers Obviously has NO Experi

Two things --

First, tell your wife to slow down (unless your wife and kids' safety aren't really that important to you...)

Secondly, your wife may want to check with MVD on the status of her drivers license. She could very well be suspended. License suspension is a little known consequence of ignoring photo enforcement citations.

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: Prescott Valley Mom

One of my family members has dealt with this and we've spoken to PVPD about them. Some of the comments on here might be what you've read or what someone has told you, but how they actually work in real life is differnt. Once flashed the photo is examined. If you're license plate & face can be seen it's mailed to you only if you live in county. When they were on the freeways in PHX they didn't send them out of county & in PV they aren't sent out of state. Throw it in the trash. A server may be sent to your home. Doesn't happen often now, because it's not cost effective & there's a 90 day time frame. Anyone that lives there & is over 18 can be served. You need not give these guys any info. A simple nope I don't live here I'm just visiting answer & close the door works great. After that it goes away. No your license doesn't get suspended. No they don't come after you. They can't unless there has been confirmation that that is YOU in the photo or the ticket has been served it's a dead issue. So don't respond to the letter in the mail & don't give info/answer the door if they come knocking. These tickets are a gray area & enough people in the state called their bluff. That's why most areas got rid of them. There's only a couple in PV it's really no big deal and the best part is you silly people that actually pay them help out our bottom line!

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: 60 Grit

Pay attention on the newly-opened north/west lanes of Fain Road, too. The speed limit is currently 55 until a mile or so before 89A, where it ups to 65 -- but only for a half mile or so before it's reduced again to 55 for the 89A light. In that 65 zone is a made-to-order police hiding spot, which I've seen used as recently as yesterday.

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: Regarding Processs Servers Obviously has NO Experience

The idea of process servers being dispatched for all tickets is a little inane. They will pursue the more serious offenders but chances are they will not pursue most because of the cost. If you are caught going twice the speed limit or you do run a red light then you WILL be served but otherwise they simply won't waste the resources, no matter WHO pays for them. I know - last summer my kids took swim lessons at the pool in PV - my wife must have been caught in photo radar at least 3 times - but only one ticket was mailed and when ignored, simply went away. Doing 34 in a 25mph zone is not exactly high crime but it does demonstrate the lack of enforcement for photo radar tickets

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