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Photo radar speeding ticket issued by mail: do you really have to pay it?
August 13, 2007 12:47 PM   Subscribe

I've heard that it's easy to get photo radar tickets thrown out, especially tickets that are delivered by mail. Is this realistic, or is it one of those "you don't have to pay federal income tax" things?

I was ticketed by photo radar [Portland, OR] for going 43mph in a 30mph zone, but a 40mph speed limit sign is visible about 100 yards in front of where the van was parked. They got a picture of my face, but I was wearing a hat, and you can't see my eyes. Additionally, they sent the ticket to my parents' house, where the car is technically registered, but I don't actually live there anymore. It's not a ton of money ($100 or so), but I'd rather not have this on my record, if only for insurance reasons. Can I beat it?

Most of the info Google has pulled up on the subject says they're easy to beat, but is several years old and not specific to Oregon, so I'm a little wary. Some author in Arizona advises people to simply not respond to mailed tickets, but I'm a little worried about this thing spiraling out of control if I don't take care of it promptly.
posted by sportbucket to Law & Government (15 answers total)
 
Are you sure a photo ticket goes on your driving record? Mine, from a fixed camera in DC didn't, I just had to pay (which I did).
posted by crabintheocean at 1:06 PM on August 13, 2007


Here's what Portland says.

If you are the registered owner of the car, and someone else was driving your car, you are required to fill out a Certificate of Innocence and mail it along with a legible photocopy of the front and back your driver's license in the envelope provided. The ticket will be dismissed if all required information is provided on the Certificate of Innocence. However, if driver's license photo matches violation photo, citation will be re-issued.
posted by smackfu at 1:11 PM on August 13, 2007


The law, if you want to look for other loopholes.
posted by smackfu at 1:20 PM on August 13, 2007


they sent the ticket to my parents' house, where the car is technically registered, but I don't actually live there anymore.

While you're at it, point that out to them. They can give you a ticket for failing to keep your registration up to date. Either pay the ticket, or, if it's an option, go to traffic school to get the ticket dismissed. And move on.
posted by Doohickie at 1:50 PM on August 13, 2007


Wonder if you can plead Nolo in Oregon? In GA, pleading nolo equates to paying the ticket with it being removed from the record (hence, no insurance spike).
posted by jmd82 at 2:04 PM on August 13, 2007


In Washington DC, the tickets are fine-only- you pay but get no points for such a ticket.
posted by Izzmeister at 2:04 PM on August 13, 2007


Wonder if you can plead Nolo in Oregon? In GA, pleading nolo equates to paying the ticket with it being removed from the record (hence, no insurance spike).

Ooh, that's a definite possibility. I don't really care about the ticket, it's the insurance hit -- I've got a clean record besides this.

There's an option to plead no contest on the form they sent. Anyone know if this will prevent it from going on my Oregon record?
posted by sportbucket at 2:15 PM on August 13, 2007


They can give you a ticket for failing to keep your registration up to date.

It's still my "permanent" address. With the amount of physical mail I get it's not worth it to keep filling out change-of-address forms.
posted by sportbucket at 2:16 PM on August 13, 2007


You could by the book Smile for the Speed Camera: Photo Radar Exposed! for $20, but I think that twenty would be better spent paying your fine...after all 1) it's the right thing to do and 2) what is your time worth?
posted by jpmack at 2:27 PM on August 13, 2007


Lucie: However you feel about the legitimacy of photo radar tickets, the question has a purpose/goal/problem to be solved. I did a search and there were a number of prior questions and answers about traffic tickets and the various options for dealing with them. None, however, dealt specifically with photo radar, so I figured this question would prove useful to the community.

So far, I'm very interested in the Nolo/No-Contest option, as it would potentially satisfy my obligation to pay the fine without suffering the insurance rate hike.
posted by sportbucket at 3:42 PM on August 13, 2007


The clear first step is to send back the form saying it's not you. If they don't buy it, they just send you the ticket again, and this time you can't contest it.
posted by smackfu at 3:43 PM on August 13, 2007


No contest doesn't necessarily remove the ticket from your record. In San Antonio at least, the no contest plea is essentially equivalent to a guilty plea. They did have a 'pay and not on your record' option, but it was a seperate thing with its own string of conditions (including a guilty plea) and done at the courthouse.

I'd suggest calling the courthouse and asking about your options.
posted by Diz at 4:11 PM on August 13, 2007


I'm in Australia, but I've once contested a ticket where the signage wasn't clear (and won).

In my case, the road was signed at 60kms when the ticket was issued (photo camera, same as you, although they are very common in Australia, more common than a cop pulling you over). However, by the time the ticket arrived, the speed limit on the road had been upped to 70. I successfully argued that the increase to 70 demonstrated that the council thought it should be 70, hence how can they fine me for going 68 on a road that now allows 70kms.

I've also heard that you can contest a ticket if you can prove it was issued close to a change in speed sign, similar to what you've suggested (ie. "I knew it was 30, but I was speeding up to 40 because of the sign I could see ahead of me, wanting to be at that speed when I got to the sign")

So, my vote is to contest it on those grounds and see what happens (in Australia you can go see the police or write a letter, but not sure about the US, you might need to go to court!)
posted by ranglin at 8:31 PM on August 13, 2007


The one thing about the sites that tell you supposedly how to beat photo radar that makes the most sense is about the jurisdiction being able to prove you actually were served the ticket. That's why you sign the ticket when the officer gives it to you; it's your proof of service. (Failing to sign a ticket, though, can lead to a very long day for you.)

Tucson is getting mobile photo radar. I'm no speed demon; however, our speed limits here are very low (empty 6 lane road with no cross streets or driveways? Hey, let's mark it at 40. Two lane road that has barriers separating it from cars and pedestrians on both sides? 25 mph sounds just right!) and this results in traffic moving 10-15 above the limit at most times. Which means I'm getting a dark tinted faceshield for my motorcycle helmet...
posted by azpenguin at 10:35 PM on August 13, 2007


they sent the ticket to my parents' house, where the car is technically registered, but I don't actually live there anymore.

It's still my "permanent" address.

You sound like Dick Cheney trying to explain how he was a resident of Wyoming when he had a homestead exemption in Dallas....
posted by Doohickie at 5:40 AM on August 14, 2007


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