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So How Exactly Does Photo Radar Work?


By Howard Fischer

Phoenix, AZ – State lawmakers debating the future of photo radar at a hearing
Thursday got a bit of a surprise about exactly how the system
operates. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

Legislators knew that the fixed and mobile cameras they
authorized the Department of Public Safety to set up snap still
photos of motorists clocked going at least 11 miles over the
posted speed limit. But DPS Commander Tom Woodward, while
answering questions about the system, acknowledged each camera
actually takes video of every vehicle passing the site, 24 hours
a day, seven days a week, whether the motorists are breaking the
law or not. And those videos are kept for 90 days. Woodward said
that allows law enforcement to go back and view them to look for
things like hit and run drivers. Rep. Andy Biggs said he
understands that anyone who drives on a public road gives up a
right to privacy. But he said this is different.

(I don't expect people to videotape me. And I especially don't
expect law enforcement to videotape me because I've done nothing

DPS Lt. James Warriner said the videos are for law enforcement
use and not a public record. But Warriner conceded that if an
attorney in a civil case gets a subpoena, perhaps to prove
someone wasn't where he or she was supposed to be his agency,
would be forced to surrender the tape.

For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard Fischer.