Arizona Photo-Enforcement Loophole: Out-of-State Residents Face No Consequences for Unpaid Freeway-Camera Tickets

redflex logo 1.jpg

In following up our earlier post today about 3,600 speed-camera cases on the docket for this morning in a single justice court, we stumbled upon the answer to a good question.

Many readers have asked: What happens if you get a speed-camera ticket on the freeway in Arizona, but you live out of state?

We had been barking up the wrong camera housing, it turns out, by asking a Redflex official whether process servers from other states deliver the tickets outside of Arizona. It doesn't matter if those tickets are served -- failing to pay does not result in any action taken with the Motor Vehicles Department, says MVD spokeswoman Cydney DeModica.
In the unlikely event that you are served personally with the ticket, there is a consequence to failing to pay: You won't be able to register a vehicle in Arizona until you pay the fine and other fees.

But if you never plan on registering a car in Arizona -- then who cares?

Frankly, we should have figured this out much earlier.

When the state Department of Public Safety set up the freeway speed-camera system last year, then-Governor Janet Napolitano knew a lot of people wouldn't love it. To mitigate some of the potential political fallout, she agreed that tickets generated from the DPS system would not add penalty points to a driver's license.

By a quirk in the law, the same MVD system that covers penalty points also determines when a driver's license should be suspended. As many of you know, if you don't pay a speeding ticket issued by a real, live cop, your driver's license will get yanked until you cough up some cash. You'll also get a suspension letter if you got a speed-camera ticket from a city like Scottsdale, ignored it, got served by a process server and continued to ignore it.

That doesn't happen with a DPS-issued speed-camera ticket. However, a separate law allows the state to put something like a lien on your vehicle registration if you have any sort of unpaid court sanctions, DeModica explains.

There is no reciprocal agreement between states on the vehicle registration lien. And without MVD action, police in other states won't see any problem with your driver's license if you get pulled over there.

To sum up: Out-of-state residents face no real consequences for failing to pay their DPS speed-camera tickets.

As for the Arizona residents among the 1,500 or so people who blew off their court date today, even after being served: They will have to pay up, eventually, if they want to renew their vehicle registration here. And they'll have a slightly higher amount to pay, says Terry Stewart, justice courts administrator.

In addition to the intial fine, (typically about $180), other fees tacked on will include:

* $26 for the process server fee.
* $20 time-payment fee
* $30 default fee

Clearly, it would behoove state residents to pay DPS tickets promptly -- if served -- and avoid the other fees (though they don't have to worry about a driver's license suspension).

As for everyone else -- it's your call.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

I have lived here in Arizona for about 4 years, but my car is registered out of state.  I purposefully drive through each & every speed and red light camera that I can find; thus, I get three of four letters a month, times 48 months, equals apx. 190 letters.  All ignored and all unpaid.


I live here part of the year, but both my car and my personal driver's license is issued in another state(arkansas) If I get a photo red light ticket ion Scottsdale, do I need to pay the fine?

Daniel Bethe
Daniel Bethe "Remember it must be you and not just your car. If the court cannot provide photographic evidence that it was you driving and breaking the law, then it will be dismissed. Also if you do happen to know who was driving your vehicle at the time, you are not required to disclose that information." I'm no expert but I'm reading about it as well.  Keep on googling, and consider a free consultation with a traffic lawyer!  Good luck!


Arizona has now gone to disabling the green turn arrow light at the corner of 16th and Jefferson near the airport to cash in with their red light cameras.  This is a great way to bag unsuspecting travelers trying to top off their rental cars before returning them to the airport rental car facility. It sounds like I'm better off rolling the dice on not being served in Colorado than paying $240 for the Defensive Driving school.  


I got one a few years back and ignored it. Now, I went to renew my California DL today and am told Arizona has suspended my license.

So, the advice to ignore this doesn't seem to be valid anymore.


I live in Texas and I did. One month to the day after I received the first notice in the mail. They never asked for a signature and I claimed I was a relative, so how could they even prove I was personally served? The ticket was issued from a residential area in Tucson.


I would like to know also, got a ticket from a trip I live in Seattle and took to Scottsdale this past January. I was in a rental car and just got a ticket for $214 and I don't want to pay it. Does anyone know?


Ok it's 5 months later (more than 120 days) and I was never personally served- case closed!



Did you decide to ignore the ticket?  Anything come of it?  I'm in the same situation for a supposed speeding violation.

Now Trending

Phoenix Concert Tickets

From the Vault