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El Mirage issuing reimbursements for illegal speed trap tickets

Posted at 5:03 PM, Dec 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-19 20:47:52-05

EL MIRAGE, AZ — The City of El Mirage is reimbursing $93,000 in traffic citations after drivers were cited for speeding in an illegal speed trap.

The citations were issued between October 2016 and February 2017 by cameras located on Thompson Ranch Road, outside Thompson Ranch Elementary School. At the time, the speed limit dropped from 40 miles-per-hour to 25 miles-per-hour, despite state law only allowing for a change of up to 10 miles-per-hour at any point along the same road.

On Wednesday, city officials declined to speak with ABC15 on camera but Amber Wakeman, the city’s deputy director for intergovernmental and public relations, said in an email, “city officials were unaware that the reduction in speed did not conform with State Statute.”

The speed limit was changed to 35 miles-per-hour — to fit the law — in 2017 but the city did not begin reimbursing drivers until after the state attorney general’s office started investigating earlier this year.

“Because of our actions, we were able to help bring an end to the practice of drivers being illegally fined in a school zone due to an invalid photo radar zone,” Katie Conner, spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, said in a statement.

Wakeman said 378 citations were reimbursed, including for drivers who opted to attend traffic school, but it’s unclear how the affected drivers were identified.

“As soon as the current city administration was made aware of this issue, we acted on it immediately,” she said.

“I’m not upset with them or anybody,” said Long Nguyen, who received a reimbursement check for around $230 earlier this month. “I’m grateful that they did that,” he told ABC15.

Asked about correcting potential insurance rate hikes or a driver’s record due to the citations, Wakeman said it would be “a judicial matter and not an administrative matter.”

The state attorney general’s office said “if anyone feels they haven’t been made whole or has questions” they should contact El Mirage city officials.