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Photo Enforcement Sign Requirements in Arizona

What does the law require for photo enforcement signs? What are the signage requirements for photo a photo enforcement zone? Do they have to put up warning signs for photo enforcement? These are good questions that I get from callers.

Arizona law requires:
Every local authority or agency of the State or Arizona using a photo enforcement system must adopt standards and specifications that indicate to a person operating a motor vehicle that a photo enforcement system is present and operational. There is an exception, which is: These standards do not apply however to a mobile photo enforcement vehicle during the time a mobile photo enforcement vehicle is deployed on streets with a posted speed limit of forty miles per hour or less.

But if it is a posted speed limit of more than forty miles per hour, the standards and specifications must include both of the following:

1. At least two signs shall be placed in a location before a photo enforcement system. One sign shall be in a location that is approximately three hundred feet before the photo enforcement system. Placement of additional signs shall be more than three hundred feet before a photo enforcement system to provide reasonable notice to a person that a photo enforcement system is present and operational.

2. Signs indicating a photo enforcement system shall be removed or covered when the photo enforcement system is no longer present or not operating.

Signs erected by a local authority or agency of this state as prescribed in this section shall contain a yellowwarning notice and correlate with and as far as possible conform to the system set forth in the most recent edition of the manual on uniform traffic control devices for streets and highways.

The Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways requires the sign to be posted at a height of at least 7 feet if permanent and at least 5 feet if temporary. The Border must be the same color as the legend and reside at or just inside the edge of the sign. The letters must be at least 8 inches high, and the sign should be placed on the right side of the roadway. The sign also must be reflect light and be visible at night.

If the standards and specifications prescribed pursuant to this section are not in effect during the operation of a photo enforcement system, the court may dismiss any citation issued to a person who is identified by the use of the photo enforcement system.

During the time a vehicle containing photo enforcement equipment is being used to identify violators of this article and article 6 of this chapter, the rear of the vehicle shall be clearly marked to indicate that the vehicle is functioning as a photo enforcement vehicle.

Commentary
Before you get your hopes up in winning a case based on improper signage, note the word 'may' in the part of the statute that reads "If the standards and specifications prescribed to this section are not in effect during the operation of a photo enforcement system, the court maydismiss any citation issued . . . "

This is what we lawyers call a toothless law. If law enforcement or the private entity law enforcement employs fails to comply with the law on this highly lucrative enforcement method, the judge does not have to dismiss the citation. It is discretionary with the judge. In other words you can win your case and prove that law enforcement violated the law and still be required to pay the money they are seeking, be held responsible for the points against your license, and suffer increased insurance rates etc.

Imagine if we as citizens could have discretion as to whether or not to follow the law. Imagine going to court and being found responsible for a traffic violation and ordered by a judge to pay a fine and being able to stand up and say, "You know judge, I don't feel like following the law today, so I am going to have to ask you to reverse your finding and enter a finding of not responsible. Oh, and by the way I am going exercise my discretion not to pay the fine either." 

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