The city has avoided paying county toll road fines using a defense it does not want motorists to use when contesting red-light camera violations.
A city finance official claimed the toll fines are owed by the individual employees rather than the city, which owns the vehicles.
But the city’s efforts to block registrations are aimed at the owners of vehicles involved in red-light camera violations.
“I think the city is talking out of both sides of its mouth. The city wants to use the defense they won’t allow citizens to use,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack said.
If you go to the city’s Red Light Camera Enforcement FAQ, this is what you get:
What if I am not the driver/owner of the vehicle at the time of the violation?
If your vehicle was stolen or sold at the time of violation, or was being test driven by another person, you may submit a sworn statement to that effect to the Court to rebut the presumption, that you were driving the vehicle at the time of the violation. A DECLARATION of NON-LIABILITY form may be downloaded from www.ViolationInfo.com or obtained from the Court. The form must be filled out, accurately and in its entirety. The form must be mailed or hand-delivered in-person to the Court prior to the Notice due date before any additional actions can be taken.
If you are a rental car company or you leased your vehicle, send your letter identifying the driver along with a copy of this Notice within 30 days after the date of the Notice of Violation is received to Violation Processing Center 209 W. Main Street, Mesa, AZ 85201.
Doesn’t really address the question of what to do if someone is just borrowing the car at the time, does it? My friend Dan had the experience awhile ago of a car mechanic getting caught by one of the cameras while test-driving his car. The garage agreed to pay the ticket, but it was a hassle for him. Be all that as it may, the County raises a good point. What does the city say for itself?
Frank Michel, a spokesman for Mayor Bill White, said the city will pay the toll road authority fines and is taking action to improve its internal monitoring of citations issued to non-emergency vehicles.
“It is our position the city is responsible to make sure these fines are taken care of,” Michel said. “Our internal policy is to hold the driver responsible or accountable, and we haven’t done a good job of doing that and we’re going to work on it.”
He added: “Whatever is owed outstanding, we are working with the county to get it resolved.”
On that latter point, there’s a sizable difference between what the city says it owes (about $1000) and what the county says it owes (about $13,000), so this isn’t a settled matter yet. But I suspect the city will pay more attention to this in the future.