By on January 28, 2010

An automated enforcement company is turning to an unelected branch of government to re-write Arizona law regarding proper service for traffic tickets. Redflex Traffic Systems of Melbourne, Australia convinced John D. Wintersteen to file a petition earlier this month that asked the Arizona Supreme Court to modify the state’s rules of civil procedure to better accommodate red light cameras and speed cameras.

“Unlike the majority of other jurisdictions that have implemented photo enforcement, Arizona’s rules governing service of process have not been simplified to accommodate the unique challenges presented by the widespread use of photo enforcement equipment,” the petition prepared by Redflex lawyers stated. “Rule 4.1 does not currently allow defendants in photo enforcement proceedings to be validly served with a copy of the summons and pleading by first-class mail.”

Under Arizona law, photo citations issued by municipalities carry license points. Although private vendors may send citations through regular mail, motorists are under no obligation to send payment unless they receive personal service. In 1992, the Arizona Court of Appeals confirmed this interpretation of state law and the city of Paradise Valley decided not to appeal to the high court (view decision).

“Regrettably, the current service of process rules have resulted in a system where those who purposefully avoid personal service are often rewarded,” the Redflex filing explained. “Myriad examples abound of the efforts traffic violators have taken to thwart service under the rules. Aside from simply refusing to answer the door to a process server, individuals have created trusts and limited liability companies to register vehicles in those entities for the express and sole purpose of evading service. Moreover, people living in gated communities frequently evade service because process servers are unable to reach those homes.”

Redflex and Wintersteen have not exaggerated their case. According to state documents, motorists have outright rejected automated citations paying them just 26.8 percent of the time. The resulting impact on Redflex finances has been so severe that investors threw out the company’s chairman for getting involved in the freeway ticketing venture that major shareholders called an “expensive failure.” Opponents of photo radar reject the idea that the state should bail a foreign company out of its difficulties.

“John Wintersteen is a front-man for Redflex,” Arizona Citizens Against Photo Radar representative Shawn Dow told TheNewspaper. “Why would the supreme court overturn 200 years of proper service because a private foreign company wants it? Australian companies shouldn’t be re-writing U.S. law.”

Although Redflex asserts that regular mail suffices for providing notice to ordinary citizens, its own contract documents forbid the use of ordinary mail when corresponding on official photo enforcement matters. Such notice may only be given by personal service, “certified mail, return receipt requested, postage and registry fees prepaid” or “a reputable overnight courier service, excluding the U.S. Postal Service” (view contract excerpt, 100k PDF).

A number of other states, including Virginia, require personal service for all traffic tickets — including red light camera citations. Interested parties may comment on the proposed rule change at the Arizona Supreme Court Rules Forum website by May 20.

The Associated Press was first to report Wintersteen’s close connection to Redflex. A copy of the petition is available in a 50k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File R-10-0002 Petition to Amend AZ Rule of Civil Procedure 4.1 (Redflex Traffic Systems, 1/19/2010)

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17 Comments on “Traffic Camera Company Seeks to Rewrite Arizona Law...”

  • avatar

    Get out of our courts and get out of our country.

  • avatar

    Tea Party them all out of the office.

  • avatar

    Why are they bothering with non-elected officials? Corporate spending limits on campaign contributions has been repealed . . . voting someone out of office for being in the corporations’ pockets will pave the way for more campaigns and more donations. It’s perfect, cheaper politicians for the special interests . . . we’ll have cigarette ads back in high schools before the end of this decade!

    What happened to you Democracy? You used to be cool.

  • avatar

    This is what happens when you overextend the orgy to privatize everything.

  • avatar

    Oh, please. This has nothing to do with privatization and everything to do with corrupt political hacks who instituted these piece of shit speed cameras into use to begin with.

    Privatization would never allow this nonsense because consumers wouldn’t support it. The only reason these speed cameras exist is because government has the ability to ram it down our throats. These cameras wouldn’t exist in a free market situation.

    • 0 avatar

      But this isn’t free market, as you correctly observe. It’s regulatory capture writ large.

      Most privatization enthusiasts don’t understand the distinction between free and fair markets and a laissez faire environment.

    • 0 avatar

      This has nothing to do with free markets, or even “fair” market. It’s a company using government to enrich its own pockets at the expense of citizens – which also has nothing to do with laissez-faire economics.

  • avatar

    Let’s look forward to the day when Federal law requires us to pay foreign-owned sewer systems for the privilege of having suspicious contents in our waste reported to the police.

  • avatar

    Why on earth does Redflex believe it has any business whatsoever influencing the laws of a U.S. state?

    How is this any different from a McDonalds opening in Melbourne that force feeds people against their will and makes them pay for it?

    The sheer gall and of this company astounds me.

  • avatar

    and thanks to the Supreme Court decision last week in Citizens United, the Aussie company can now spend millions of dollars on judicial elections in states where judges are elected, so they can buy themselves a sympathetic court to change the rules to serve their own private, commercial interests.

    In those states where judges are not elected, they can just buy the Legislature directly now.


  • avatar

    So all this pissing and moaning is over decreasing their mailing costs from 4 bucks for Certified to 44 cents for USPS Lost/Delayed/Misplaced Class?

  • avatar

    Hey, this is NRA’s America . . . . aren’t these things vulnerable to bullets?
    I say this as a non gun owner :)

  • avatar

    On second thought, how about paint ball guns aimed at their camera windows? . . . much less risky on a number of levels.
    We have tea baggers, so why not paint ballers? :)

    • 0 avatar

      About 8 years ago, someone ran over the camera on the road from Vaduz(FL) to Feldkirch(At), I think that everybody who looked at this thing and its pole, laying prostrate on the ground for several weeks, smiled and thought “right-on” …

      Paint gun sounds like a good idea … but before you know it, they will have a camera watching the camera!

  • avatar

    The Longview, Washington City Council is debating these cameras tonight. The City Manager is head-over-heels dead set they’re going in.

    His full-frontal assault includes “We’ll set up them cash registers in School Zones to protect the kids.”

    Never mind a search of Police, City, and newspaper (The Daily News) records shows NO deaths or serious injuries attributable to non-outright reckless speed for as far back as the records go.

    Ka Chink, Ka Chink, Ka Chink, we’re saving the kids, Ka Chink, Ka Chink, Ka Chink.

    • 0 avatar

      this used to be the mantra out of dc … i’m doing this not for my self, but for the next generation and the generation after that…

      i don’t know when it started, but i read the book John Adams a few years ago, and even he said something to that effect… something like he was a warrior so his son could be a diplomat so his grandson could be an artist, etc… difference, he walked his talk, the others that use this rhetoric are just trying to appeal to people’s soft spots and avoid any real argument … afterall, who wants to be accused of not wanting to protect kids from school zone hoons?

  • avatar

    No, Fendertweed, a foreign company cannot directly contribute to a political campaign. That ban has been in effect for ages, and the recent SCOTUS ruling in no way changes that- very specifically does not change that.

    I know, I know, BHO said otherwise in his State of the Union. You’ll have to figure out for yourself why he misled you.

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