Bill to ban photo enforcement radars on Arizona roads sits at governor’s desk

On Monday, the House passed SB1234, which would remove all traffic photo enforcement cameras from streets.
Published: May. 15, 2023 at 8:06 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A new bill to ban photo enforcement radars in Arizona now sits at the hands of the governor. On Monday, the House passed SB1234, which would remove all traffic photo enforcement cameras from streets.

Photo enforcement radars have been a debate in Arizona for several years. Cameras are placed on streets or at traffic lights to track speeders and red-light runners. If the radar senses a driver is violating the speed limit or law, it would take a photo, and a ticket would be sent, costing drivers hundreds of dollars in fines and fees.

Research from the National Safety Council has found that two-thirds of people approve the photo radars and say it makes roads safer. While others criticize the radars saying the cameras are expensive and intrusive to drivers.

Political consultant and Fountain Hills resident Shawn Dow has been fighting for the ban on photo enforcement radars since 2008 and said through his advocacy and helping write legislation, he’s watched 16 other states ban them since. “Over 700 cities across America have ripped these cameras out,” said Dow.

Dow said the way these cameras work is unconstitutional, and argues they aren’t safe at all. “Every vehicle that drives by those cameras has a background check done on them, violating our 4th amendment. There was no probable cause,” said Dow. “Shining a bright flash in people’s eyes at the most dangerous part of the intersection cannot possibly make the intersection safer.”

But there are others on the other side of the debate, like Mesa Police Chief Ken Cost, who said these devices are working by slowing down drivers in crucial areas. “We’ve seen reductions with photo radar in our school zones,” said Cost.

Cost told Arizona lawmakers of the more than 500 intersections they have in their city, there are only 16 intersections that have cameras. He said with staff shortages and vacancies, having those cameras helps keep those high-traffic areas safe. “The City of Mesa isn’t trying to throw cameras up in every single intersection, it’s school and data related to where the accidents are occurring,” said Cost.

The police chief also told lawmakers that in Mesa they have a police investigator who reviews every single ticket that comes through the radar, and after review, they only issue about half of those violations.

Gov. Hobbs will have the final stamp of approval on whether SB1234 will go into effect. If approved, Arizona would be the 17th state to ban radar cameras from streets and intersections.