**Disclaimer** This article does not constitute legal advice, nor does it take into account any unreported subversive methods currently being used by American Traffic Solutions, Redflex Traffic Systems, Process Servers, Judges and courts in Arizona such as the Scottsdale City Court
With that disclaimer out of the way, now seems like a great time to reiterate an important piece of knowledge that every motorist who lives or travels through Arizona should have.
Yes, you can ignore your photo ticket, which can be defined as a “Notice of Violation” mailed to your address that contains the details of an alleged moving violation (either speed or red light infraction) and a picture of yourself, your spouse, a friend, relative, dog, monkey, giraffe or anything else you could imagine.
For the vast majority of what can be described as photo tickets, here’s how the process works, once the request for your money from either Redflex or ATS is mailed out:
1. Ticket (bill) is sent out with a response deadline.
2. Ticket is ignored or never received and deadline passes
3. A complaint for “non-responsiveness” is filed with the court
4. Case is assigned to a process serving outfit
Here’s where things can take a little twist depending on your situation. The process server, who is overwhelmed with photo tickets (good for their business) reviews the ticket and decides if they want to attempt to serve you at the address listed on the Notice of Violation (ticket or bill).
If the process server does attempt to serve you, they have 120 days from when the complaint was filed with the court. See step 3 above. It is NOT 120 days from the alleged violation. This is a common misconception.
Process servers in Arizona have been known to make many mistakes or just flat out lie about who they have served. This is a risk you take by trashing your ticket, or just driving through Arizona, as many tickets are mailed to old addresses or lost in the mail. This system is obviously incredibly flawed.
If the process server reports back to a judge that you have been served, even if they’re lying through their teeth, now you can no longer ignore the situation without consequence. You’re also likely to face a $25-$30 add on to the fine amount, which is a violation of Arizona’s equal protection clause, but demanded by the court nonetheless.
Once the process server goes on record with the judge and says that you or someone who knows you has been personally served with this ticket, really awful things could happen to you if you continue to ignore the court, so make sure to show up by the new deadline or call them for more information ahead of time.
The case of Tonner v Paradise Valley in 1992 set the legal precedent for this law in Arizona and it has yet to be overturned.
TheNewspaper.com has the full text of the decision, linked from the snippet below:
If that never happens, you’re off scott-free. Once that 120 days passes, the ticket is legally dead and the record is deleted from the court system with no guilt assessed to the vehicle owner.
The city of Scottsdale, famous for it’s Kangaroo Court, has a bit of a twist on the personal service requirement. They call it "alternative service." We call it fraud, but you should know what it is.
If the alleged violation occurred in the city of Scottsdale, the process server may petition to a judge for “alternative service,” then go back to the address on the notice of violation and leave it on the doorstep, in the dumpster or just pretend they left it somewhere on the premises and report back to the judge.
Scottsdale plays by its own rules, so be aware of that little trick they enjoy playing on motorists.
If you’re still unsure about this or need a lawyer, we may just know a few, so feel free to comment, tweet or contact us.
And as always, please drive safely. Speed cameras, photo radar and red light cameras add to all the driver distractions we all must deal with, so keep an eye out for those flashing boxes which dot the city streets of many Arizona cities and towns.