Mobile Speed Van Signage Illegal

It appears that there is yet another illegality with regard to the Arizona state photo enforcement program. This oversight invalidates all citations issued as a result of mobile scam vans! Follow along:

ARS 28-654:

B – 1. At least two signs shall be placed in a location before a photo enforcement system. One sign shall be in a location that is approximately three hundred feet before the photo enforcement system. Placement of additional signs shall be more than three hundred feet before a photo enforcement system to provide reasonable notice to a person that a photo enforcement system is present and operational.

C. Signs erected by a local authority or agency of this state as prescribed in this section shall contain a yellow warning notice and correlate with and as far as possible conform to the system set forth in the most recent edition of the manual on uniform traffic control devices for streets and highways adopted by the director pursuant to section 28-641.

D. If the standards and specifications prescribed pursuant to this section are not in effect during the operation of a photo enforcement system, the court may dismiss any citation issued to a person who is identified by the use of the photo enforcement system.

ARS 28-641:

The director shall adopt a manual and specifications for a uniform system of traffic control devices for use on highways in this state. Except as provided in section 28-2416, the uniform system shall correlate with and as far as possible conform to the system set forth in the most recent edition of the manual on uniform traffic control devices (MUTCD) for streets and highways prepared by the national joint committee on uniform traffic control devices.

So now we look at the MUTCD:

Section 2A.18 requires the sign to be at least 5ft off of the ground:

Signs installed at the side of the road in rural districts shall be at least 1.5 m (5 ft), measured from the bottom of the sign to the near edge of the pavement.

This is the most lenient standard… other standards require a height of at least 7 ft. Even temporary signage must conform to this standard. Think about it! The reason for the height requirement is to ensure visibility. You can’t ensure good visibility if the sign is sitting on the ground!

Section 2C.03 Design of Warning Signs

Standard:

All warning signs shall be diamond-shaped (square with one diagonal vertical) with a black legend and border on a yellow background unless specifically designated otherwise. Warning signs shall be designed in accordance with the sizes, shapes, colors, and legends contained in the “Standard Highway Signs” book.

It should also be noted that the Photo Enforcement Zone sign is not in the list of approved signs.

Illegal Photo Enforcement Zone Sign

Conclusion:

While we are not legal experts, it does appear on the outset that the mobile van signage is illegal and any citations issued by them should be dismissed by the court.  If you do try this as your defense, let us know how it goes!

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7 Comments

  1. Posted March 8, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Nice job of following the laws and providing the links. However, there are an awful of of weasel words in those laws that allow a judge to accept whatever he wants.

    Still, based upon an article that resulted from hearings conducted this past week, it has come out that the JP courts get zero dollars from the state (DPS) issued photo enforcement tickets. Zero.

    Yet the costs of paperwork and a “trial” are borne by the JP court. Well it seems to me that a judge may quite possibly be looking for an excuse to cut his losses. And ysou point out the way, if a person was tempted to judiciously point it out to his honor at the beginning of the trial:

    D. If the standards and specifications prescribed pursuant to this section are not in effect during the operation of a photo enforcement system, the court may dismiss any citation issued

    This provision in the law exonerates the judge from any blame from the state or its contractor for dismissing the ticket to save costs that his court will never recoup.

    • Slepy
      Posted October 11, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Driving through El Mirage last night I was flashed by their new mobile unit. I was only going 26 in a 25. Howerver, I have noticed before that no one is in the suv and that suv is parked there pretty much all weekend long for the past few weeks. There are no signs before or after the suv warning drivings that a speed van/suv is up head. Can I fight this ticket if I get it in the mail????? Can we help others who might be paying these tickets not knowing the AZ law?

      • Kevin Loeffler
        Posted February 21, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        You guys need to read the entire section of ARS 28-654. Subsection (F) indicates signage is NOT required where mobile units are placed on streets with posted speed limits of 40 mph or less. Thus, a mobile speed enforcement vehicle on a street with a speed limit of 25, is NOT required to have warning signage.

        This article was about the STATE program which pretty much applies only to highways and roads over 40mph. Regardless, it would apply any time these temporary signs are used. –admin

  2. scwidy
    Posted March 29, 2010 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Speed limit signs don’t matter. In Arizona it is assumed that a highway is 55 unless you see a sign posted otherwise. What does work though is the 2 sign part of ARS 28.654. I just got one dismissed that I had gotten at 12th St. on the US17. If you enter the freeway going Southbound at 7th St., you will only have the opportunity to see the 300 ft. warning sign, the second sign you would have to be on the freeway prior to the on-ramp to see, so the judge found it to be in violation of the statue if the defendant entered the freeway at this particular on-ramp.

  3. Fred Sboddi
    Posted August 31, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    If your state requires signage, than that sign almost certainly must meet the definitions of the MUTCD, since every other sign and all traffic control devices nationally must adhere to this manual.

    The Federal Standard for regulatory signs, the MUTCD states several things that apply to Photo Radar signs- but most importantly that there is a minimum height of 5 feet in rural areas and 7 feet in urban areas from the pavement to the bottom of the sign.

    Unless there is CONSTRUCTION, or another temporary street condition (an accident, a damage street)- i.e., if the radar van and sign are used in a NORMAL street, non-temporary state- the MUTCD is quite clear-
    5 feet rural, 7 feet city.

    Your state or city may say something like, “as the Traffic Engineer deems PRACTICAL”– so you may have to show that it’s practical to use a removable method of posting the sign on an existing support to allow it to be 7 feet off the ground.” So, the devil is in the details.

    The best advice is to show the city attorney that you will fight, and that you will fight with an attorney. Get an attorney to submit a MOTION TO DISMISS before it gets to court. Your chances of winning in front of a judge is practically nil- even when the city is breaking the law. City and County Courts exist simply to make money for the city. They are not going to give in easily. YOu have to make them realize that you will be more trouble than is worth their time.

    Get your facts straight, get your evidence, use the MUTCD and specific sections for reference, and if at all possible, get an attorney to submit your motion to dismiss before your court date.

    Section 2A.18 Mounting Height

    Standard:
    01 The provisions of this Section shall apply unless specifically stated otherwise for a particular sign or object marker elsewhere in this Manual.

    Support:
    02 The mounting height requirements for object markers are provided in Chapter 2C.

    03 In addition to the provisions of this Section, information affecting the minimum mounting height of signs as a function of crash performance can be
    found in AASHTO’s “Roadside Design Guide” (see Section 1A.11).

    Standard:
    04 The minimum height, measured vertically from the bottom of the sign to the elevation of the near edge of the pavement, of signs installed at the side
    of the road in rural areas shall be 5 feet (see Figure 2A-2).

    05 The minimum height, measured vertically from the bottom of the sign to the top of the curb, or in the absence of curb, measured vertically from the
    bottom of the sign to the elevation of the near edge of the traveled way, of signs installed at the side of the road in business, commercial, or residential
    areas where parking or pedestrian movements are likely to occur, or where the view of the sign might be obstructed, shall be 7 feet (see Figure 2A-2).

    Option:
    06 The height to the bottom of a secondary sign mounted below another sign may be 1 foot less than the height specified in Paragraphs 4 and 5.

    Standard:
    07 The minimum height, measured vertically from the bottom of the sign to the sidewalk, of signs installed above sidewalks shall be 7 feet.

    08 If the bottom of a secondary sign that is mounted below another sign is mounted lower than 7 feet above a pedestrian sidewalk or pathway
    (see Section 6D.02), the secondary sign shall not project more than 4 inches into the pedestrian facility.

    Traffic Laws
    Photo Enforced R10-18 2B.55 36 x 24 36 x 24 48 x 30 54 x 36 — 54 x 36
    Photo Enforced (symbol plaque) R10-19P 2B.55 24 x 12 24 x 12 36 x 18 48 x 24 — 48 x 24
    Photo Enforced (plaque) R10-19aP 2B.55 24 x 18 24 x 18 36 x 30 48 x 36 — 48 x 36

    Section 6F Temporary Signs

    Guidance:
    11 Except as provided in Paragraph 12, signs mounted on portable sign supports that do not meet the minimum mounting heights provided in Paragraphs 4
    through 6 should not be used for a duration of more than 3 days.

    Option:
    12 The R9-8 through R9-11a series, R11 series, W1-6 through W1-8 series, M4-10, E5-1, or other similar type signs (see Figures 6F-3, 6F-4, and 6F-5)
    may be used on portable sign supports that do not meet the minimum mounting heights provided in Paragraphs 4 through 6 for longer than 3 days.

    Support:
    13 Methods of mounting signs other than on posts are illustrated in Figure 6F-2.

    Section 6B.01 Fundamental Principles of Temporary Traffic Control

    Support:
    01 Construction, maintenance, utility, and incident zones can all benefit from TTC to compensate for the unexpected or unusual situations
    faced by road users. When planning for TTC in these zones, it can be assumed that it is appropriate for road users to exercise caution. Even
    though road users are assumed to be using caution, special care is still needed in applying TTC techniques.

    SPEED LIMIT

    How does the Town of Prescott Valley determine speed limits?

    The Town of Prescott Valley follows the guidelines set forth in the Arizona State Statutes and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)
    to set speed limits in our town. The State Statutes allow local authorities to determine speed limits on streets based on an “engineering and traffic
    investigation.” The MUTCD provides the criteria that are used for the engineering study. The MUTCD states that the speed limit should be within 5 mph
    of the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic (the speed at which 85% of the vehicles are traveling at or less than). It also allows consideration
    of road characteristics, roadside development, parking and pedestrian activity, and crash experience. Most of our studies are in areas where the roadside
    environment is changing due to development or where we have an inordinately high number of accidents. Studies may also be based on citizen requests.

  4. Fred Sboddi
    Posted August 31, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    The other consideration is this– when you are charged for example:

    For Going 10 MPH over the posted Limit

    They cannot change the charge, because there is no posted limit in the case where there is no sign.

    But again, the best defense is intimidation– make it not worth their trouble– and then APPEAL when necessary. Pay the extra $50 for appeal court. Make it difficult to uphold.

  5. Debra
    Posted September 1, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    To the people who have been justifiably taken by the Photo Radar Vehicles that was used on the 101 in an around 27th ave split. This area was one of the most suspicious yet illegal spots for Redflex to have put a Photo Radar vehicle. In and around, 12/21/10 timeframe there were posted signs that the city was doing work on the freeway and right after that were the Photo Radar vehicles placed. No where in sight at that time were signs posted for what the speed limit was to be. They had signs that said slow down due to road work. However, there was no one ever there working on the roads. So my question is: How many of you got caught up in those fines?


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