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Photo radar bill would tie violation to vehicle rather than drive

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A proposal to allow photo enforcement of laws governing stopped school buses would force people who get any kind of photo radar tickets to rat out whoever was driving their vehicle at the time.

The proposal by Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, would eliminate the requirement that photo radar tickets have a picture of whoever is behind the wheel of a vehicle that is clocked speeding or goes through a red light. Instead, the only thing that would be needed is a picture of the license plate.

What that does is tie the violation to the vehicle rather than the driver, similar to a parking ticket. Thorpe said that would prevent insurance companies from raising the premiums of drivers who are caught violating the law.

The other side of that coin, however, is that vehicle owners who get these citations in the mail would no longer be able to escape a penalty simply by showing that they are not the person in the picture. Instead, they would have the choice of either providing the name of who was behind the wheel or paying the ticket themselves.

Thorpe’s far-reaching legislation, HB2366, also would allow schools put photo radar cameras on their buses even as pressure builds to ban the technology entirely.

He said schools have told him there is a problem with motorists ignoring the legal requirement to stop when a bus is loading or discharging students. He said mounting cameras on the buses should help catch violators and potentially deter others.

The legislation comes as Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, has introduced SCR1010, asking voters to outlaw entirely the use of cameras to enforce traffic laws. And Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, is pushing SB1241 to keep cities and counties from setting up the cameras on state highways.

Thorpe’s proposal also comes on the heels of a vote in Tucson to ban the city from using photo radar. Thorpe’s bill would appear to allow schools within the city to put them on their buses despite that vote.

HB2366 has provoked an outcry among “tea party” interests who have lashed out at Thorpe and the 10 other legislators who have signed on as cosponsors, putting many of them on the defensive.

“It’s interesting that the whole libertarian Facebook crowd is just crucifying me right now,” said Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, who is on that list.

Finchem said he remains adamantly opposed to the use of photo enforcement, calling it “the sign of an Orwellian state.” And he pointed out that he also signed on as a cosponsor to Smith’s measure for a public vote to outlaw it.

But Finchem said he thinks that the issue with school buses is “a little bit different” and that Thorpe’s bill deserves to be heard.

Arizona law requires motorists to stop when a school bus has its flashing lights on and the “stop” sign on the left side of the bus extended. A first violation can draw a $250 fine; anyone convicted of three violations within 36 months loses a license for at least six months.

Despite those penalties, Thorpe said people ignore the signs and children get injured.

He said the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice says 24 percent of all school bus-related injuries are from kids getting on and off the bus.

“These injuries occur in the ‘danger zone’ about 10 feet from each side of the school bus,” Thorne said. “In these hazardous areas, children are at risk of being injured.”

So he wants to make it optional for schools to take pictures of offenders.

“I have no idea whether any school districts would take advantage of it,” he said.

Stephanie Boe, spokeswoman for Tucson Unified School District, said there have been “isolated cases” where there have been problems at a particular bus stop.

“However, we alert local law enforcement so they can take proactive steps and monitor the intersection,” she said. And Boe said there is another reason TUSD might not opt for photo enforcement.

“Given current funding, I can’t see how we would ever pay for something like this,” she said.

But Thorpe has an answer for that: Schools could work with private companies who would set up and operate the cameras — for a share of the ticket proceeds.

Thorpe acknowledged the increasing hostility of Arizona motorists to having traffic laws enforced by cameras that often are set up and operated by private companies for a profit. But he said this is different.

“Unlike speeding tickets or running a red light, you’ve got a flashing school bus dropping off kids,” he said. “You certainly want people to respect that and protect those kids.”

Thorpe said there are provisions in the measure designed to get the support of those who don’t like photo radar. Key among them is the provision linking the ticket to the vehicle.

At the minimum, that eliminates the need to take pictures of the driver — as well as any chance the photo could become public.

“The other advantage to that is because you’re no longer giving a citation to the individual, then the insurance companies cannot add (surcharges) to their insurance policy,” he said. But there’s a catch.

“Now, if you decide not to divulge who the driver of the car, of course you’re then stuck with the ticket,” Thorpe conceded, along with the hike in insurance premiums.

And Thorpe’s bill has something else: a cap on fines.

He said current law allows cities and counties, who get to keep most of the penalties, to set them pretty much whatever they want. His legislation sets the fine for most violations at no more than $150.

But there are exceptions.

Those who are caught speeding through school zones or driving more than 85 miles an hour would still face higher fines, as would those who pass stopped school buses.


  1. The bill is dead. Here’s the real story from

    Oh, and all that blather about “the children?” Total nonsense. See:

    Arizona Representatives Backtrack On Support Of Photo Radar Expansion Bill

    Posted: 22 Jan 2016 12:20 AM PST
    March committee hearingTea Party Republicans were surprised earlier this week to learn that Arizona candidates who ran on a “pro liberty” campaign platform just sponsored legislation to expand the use of red light cameras, speed cameras and school bus cameras (view bill). After public outrage manifested itself in the form of emails, phone calls and posts on social media platforms, a handful of the eleven lawmakers behind the measure attempted to publicly distance themselves from the pro-camera effort.

    Even so, the bill’s supporters have a track record of working behind the scenes to expand photo radar. State Representative Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff), the primary sponsor, told an American Traffic Solutions (ATS) lobbyist last March that he intended to address the industry’s concerns with a bill removing the requirement that tickets go to the driver committing a violation rather than just to a vehicle’s registered owner.

    “I’m very interested in running a bill next year to place the citation on the vehicle,” Thorpe said in a March 19 committee hearing.

    ATS has been promoting that legislative change for years, as it would significantly reduce the cost of processing citations. Thorpe added that he was “impressed” after meeting with ATS officials. The company’s lobbyist returned the compliment.

    “I have told members, if you care about your constituents, I think the political figure who takes that issue and runs with it will be rewarded by his constituents,” ATS lobbyist Stan Barnes said. “I think you would be a hero for doing such a thing.”

    This week, however, the photo radar expansion bill’s supporters became defensive. State Representative Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) took to her Facebook page to distance herself from the pro-camera effort after being bombarded by complaints from constituents.

    “Signed a bill just before the deadline,” Townsend wrote. “It was not completely explained to me, and I misunderstood what it did. Glanced it over but should have waited. My own fault.”

    Except Townsend also has a record of backing red light cameras and speed cameras behind the scenes. In the Government and Higher Education Committee hearing last March, Townsend joined Thorpe in a 3 to 5 vote against a bill to ban automated ticketing machines. Had Thorpe and Townsend switched positions, the measure would have passed.

    “Seeing the behavior change in the way people drive here in Arizona, it was clear that the cameras seem to be effective,” Townsend said at the hearing. “I know my constituents don’t want these. At this point I’m going to vote based off of what I’m seeing and what my conscience is telling me… I think that the benefits outweigh the things that we don’t like about them. So for that reason I’m going to vote no.”

    This week, several members of the local Republican party complained about state Representative Mark Finchem’s (R-Tucson) support for camera expansion just a few months after two-thirds of Tucson voters enacted a ballot initiative outlawing automated ticketing machines. Finchem responded defensively, saying he was just promoting “debate” on the issue.

    “For the record, I have not received a dime from any safety camera manufacturer or service provider, and I call on those who make the claim to impugn my record, the ethics I stand for, provide proof,” state Representative Mark Finchem wrote.

    Respondents pointed out that Finchem took public funding for his campaign, and the state Clean Elections Fund is bankrolled in part by a $16.50 contribution from each photo radar citation issued in the state. That amount would increase to up to $75 per ticket under the Gang of Eleven photo radar bill. In addition, both Finchem and Townsend pledged to oppose photo radar in the 2014 Campaign for Liberty candidate survey.

    “Mark, if you say one thing then do another, do not be surprised if you’re called on in public,” one constituent, Scot McDougal, fired back at the representative. “You serve the public.” Source

  2. Since when does it make sense NOT to bother to identify the driver for a moving violation? Parking is understandable… a vehicle is essentially renting space, so the owner of the vehicle should be responsible for its storage whether or not he parked it. But moving violations are a different story. If someone kills someone with my butcher knife, why should I be responsible because the cops are too lazy to track that down the killer?

    The arguments for school bus cameras are specious. The article states 24% of school bus injuries are from kids getting on and off the bus. Does that include tripping and falling? This is not just kids getting run over by cars illegally passing. How about a count on kids hit by illegally passing cars? They are grasping at straws to justify bus cameras so camera companies can make MILLIONS, just look at http://SchoolBusCameras.Info for all you need to know about them.

  3. HB2366 is not a bad bill, it is a manifestly evil bill. It is designed to increase the profits of the predatory for-profit ticket camera companies and their for-profit city business partners. It is designed to further erode the rights of due process for ticket recipients. It is designed to make long run investigations of wrongdoing by the for-profit camera companies and their for-profit city business partners impossible. Only legislators “in the pocket” of ATS and Redflex are likely to support it. HB2366 must be withdrawn.

    AZ residents need to contact their state Representatives and Senators to say NO to this bill and ANY bills designed to expand the use of ANY types of ticket cameras. They are always a money grab scam. Contact:

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association,

  4. @James C. Walker — The bill is dead. It has been withdrawn. Read my previous comment.

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