Do you really have to pay photo radar tickets?

Posted at 5:57 PM, May 20, 2016
and last updated 2018-06-22 15:47:26-04

Photo radar cameras are back up, but there's still a lot of confusion about what to do if you get a ticket.

Viewer Rashard in Avondale tells me he got at ticket from one of the cameras in Paradise Valley and asks, "What is the rule and should I pay the ticket?"

Sharon in Peoria says, "Are the photo radar tickets from El Mirage legal?"

The short answer is yes, the tickets are legal.

But attorney Robert Gruler of R&R Law Group says, that doesn't mean you have to pay immediately.

"Your first line of defense is definitely to wait it out," he says. "Make them do their job. Don't make it any easier on them."

The ticket that is mailed to you gives you the options of paying the fine, declare that you were not the driver, request a hearing or attend defensive driving school.

Gruler says most people comply because those are the only options written on the ticket.

But he says there is another choice.

"What they don't tell you on that piece of paper is that you don't have to do anything with that ticket," he says.

 And responding in any way effectively waives your right to have the city to serve you in person.

State law says if you do not respond to the mailed ticket, it must be served, in person, within 90 days of the date it was filed with the court. 

"I'm going to wait until the court meets their burden, until they cross that hurdle and establishes jurisdiction," Gruler says.

Within that 90-day period cities have the option to use a process server to fulfill their obligation or ask a court for alternative service.

Once granted, alternative service no longer requires that you be served in person.

"They go to the post office mail it certified mail and then a process server will physically come to the house and tape it to the door," Gruler says.

He says that rarely happens, with a couple of exceptions.

"The City of Scottsdale is going to be very aggressive, the City of Mesa as well. They serve almost every single ticket," he says.

If you do get served, that's when you are legally obligated to respond.

"You need to do something otherwise if you just continue to ignore it then they're going to suspend your license and enter a default judgment against you," Gruler says.

If you do decide to take your chances and wait it out, keep in mind if you are served you'll be on the hook for process server fees in addition to any other fees that are associated with the case.

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