Because Minor Drug Cases Weren't Clogging the Courts Enough

The civil courts of Maricopa County (which includes Phoenix) are being overwhelmed by photo-radar cases from state photo-radar trucks on state highways.

In the 2008 fiscal year, ending June 2008, the total annual filings in the justice courts amounted to 435,014, which included DUI, traffic, misdemeanor and civil cases, according to the county. Since November 2008, speed-camera cases have flooded the justice courts, averaging 42,326 cases a month, accounting for 50 percent of the filings. Administrators for the justice courts expect the total might reach 600,000 this fiscal year.

Of course the solution proposed is not to get rid of the photo radar but to raise fees to cover the administration.  But you could have guessed that without me telling your, couldn't you?


  1. Allen:

    Reminds me of some police departments 5 - 10 years ago. They got all excited over dashboard cams in the cars but instead of having a test run of them, let's say install it in 20 of the 400 squad cars, they'd just go and start implementing it in all the cars. A few hundred installations later they'd go "oh crap, what do we do about storing all these video tapes?" and finally put off new installations and not use them cuz they didn't know what the hell to do with the tapes. Brilliant!

    In this case, seems like even if the state thought of it they don't have any incentive to care since they're not the ones footing the cost.

    If the state is setting up the cameras, shouldn't they responsible for the court costs? Or at least give the counties control over the quantity of cameras?

  2. Craig:

    College Station, TX voters just passed a referendum to get rid of red light cameras, much to the city's chagrin, of course.

  3. Dr. T:

    Aren't the speeding ticket fines supposed to cover administrative costs? So why do they need a budget increase? With hundreds of thousands of speeding tickets, they should be swimming in money.

    Sounds like a job for a good investigative reporter.

  4. TheoB:

    You need to streamline and simplify the process. Here in Norway the cops just mail you the fine, and only if you object will the case go to court. There, with the photographic evidence provided by the state, the judge will find you guilty, double the fine and order you to pay all court expenses.

  5. gadfly:

    It has to be Sheriff Joe's fault ... it always is.

  6. nom de guerre:

    hmmm. well, assuming sherf joe's boys haven't yet instituted a dusk-to-dawn curfew yet, maybe it's time for a little civil disobedience. hit them where it hurst them the most: in the wallet. (42,000 cases a month; average fine $200, say; net profit to cash-strapped county = $8.4 million a month. sweeeeet.) in england, they like to 'necklace' the speed cams. (essentially, they just burn them at the stake. nice thing about fire is it usually tends to destroy incriminating evidence along with the evil camera.) OR, if you wanna get a little more high-tech, simply google "DIY phone-activated camera-blinding laser" and see what good fun pops up.

    of course, i should hasten to add these actions are *wrong*, and illegal, and i would never ever incite their usage. i'm sure that arizonans are a deeply obedient people, who will happily follow the orders given them by their uniformed masters. after all, everyone knows that after a citizens **first duty** - paying taxes - is complied with, his next highest purpose in life is "obey authority".

  7. Michael:

    Dr. T,

    The problem is that people are demanding their day in court. The problem with red light and radar cameras is the the car's owner is charged with the crime, not the car's driver.

    With the high fees related to these traffic violations, more and more people are going to court and demanding the prosecutor prove they were driving the vehicle. And I would think this would be difficult since the cameras shoot the back of the vehicle.

    The dirty little secret is if everyone demanded their day in court, the whole system would collapse on itself.


    In America, the people, most of the time, are innocent until proven guilty. A car may be used in a crime, but the prosecutor needs to prove who was operating the car, they can't just say it is the registered owner.

  8. ian:

    I disagree that the best solution must be to remove the cameras based solely on the cost of the program, and that raising fees is automatically wrong.

    The decision of whether or not to get rid of the cameras should be based not only on the program's cost, but also on its effectiveness. A high cost might be acceptable if there is a significant reduction of collisions at camera intersections.

    If the program is worth the cost, I'd rather they raised fees on those who were guilty (or at least owners of the cars which were driven by those who were guilty) than subsidized the program with tax money.

  9. Michael:


    The National Motorists Association has 5 long term studies that shows red light camera programs increase accidents. These programs are about getting government money by charging the owners (not drivers) of inanimate objects with a crime and without any due process.