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Old February 18th, 2010
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Default Arizona Senate Panel Approves Photo Ticketing Expansion

Arizona Senate committee approves vendor-sponsored legislation to expand photo radar in the guise of reform.

The Arizona Senate Public Safety and Human Services Committee approved legislation last Wednesday that would substantially expand the size and scope of the photo enforcement program in the state. Lawmakers voted 6-1 to approve legislation allowing the use of automated ticketing machines for a number of new types of violations. Committee Chairman Linda Gray (R-Phoenix) sponsored the legislation after becoming an enthusiastic supporter of cameras.

"I have come to understand with the data that has come in photo radar has provided for safer highways," Gray said. "So I have a different perspective today than when I first learned of what photo radar is doing."

Although Gray introduced the legislation claiming it would "reform" the photo enforcement program, the measure was in fact drafted by Redflex Traffic Systems, a firm based in Australia. The company listened to lawmaker complaints and included some mild changes that would not affect the company's existing practice, such as a change in the signage requirements. The legislation also included a number of items of direct financial interest to the company.

"We appreciate senator Gray for working with us," Redflex lobbyist Mike Williams said. "We've worked with legislators for the past three years."

Under the current program, for example, a vehicle must be accused of traveling 11 MPH above the speed limit before Redflex can mail a photo citation. The Redflex legislation eliminates this buffer and allows the issuance of tickets for driving as little as 1 MPH over the limit in either a school zone or highway work zone. Signage requirements are gutted by a provision that allows photo radar warning signs to be left up for up to 24 hours when no photo radar is in use. The bill also eliminates the requirement that photo tickets be issued only for speed and red light violations, opening up the possibility that such tickets could be issued for cell phone and other violations. The initial draft of the legislation specifically included language that would allow Redflex to issue tickets to motorists accused of having lapsed insurance or vehicle registration.

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