A question the attorneys at our firm often get from drivers Arizona is:
Do I have to respond to a photo radar ticket notice that I have received in the mail?
TWO TYPES OF MAILED TICKETS
Here is the answer in a nutshell:
There are two different types of notices you could have received in the mail.
The first type is a “notice of violation”. The “notice of violation” is a mailed ticket naming you as the driver. This is only going to happen if you are one of the registered drivers of the vehicle, or very rarely if you are a family member of the registered owner(s).
The second type is a notice stating that there is an alleged violation but the State is not sure of the identity of the driver, and they are requesting that you send them a response identifying the driver.
You are under absolutely no legal obligation to respond to either of these and no duty to admit that you were the driver.
If you get the one asking who the driver is, you may ignore it. The State of Arizona must actually file a ticket against the correct driver, and since they don’t know who the driver is, Arizona will likely not charge anyone.
If you received the “notice of violation” it is best not to respond. If you send it back denying that you were the driver, you are going to receive another letter saying because they can’t specifically exclude you as the driver you now have to go to court. Plus, you will have officially waived the State’s requirement to personally serve you with the ticket by responding.
The police have sixty (60) days from the date of violation (the date you were flashed by the camera) to file the citation with the court, then they have ninety (90) days from that date to get the ticket served upon the driver. In Arizona, until the driver is properly served, the court can’t legally do anything to the driver. Personal service becomes effective if the defendant (the driver) is served personally. Personal service occurs when a process server tells the served person that the documents are important legal documents, that they are being offered to the served person, and are then provided to or left for the served person.
Personal service on another person on your behalf (“substitute service”) is also effective personal service if it is at your home and the other person who gets served also lives there, is over fourteen or older, and is competent. Someone doing work on the house like or an overnight guest will not be sufficient. The process server as has to actually serve them, not just leave the documents in the mailbox, but it is not necessary that the person being served actually accepts the papers. The fact that the process server offered the documents and then left them for the substitute person when they refused to take them is usually legally sufficient. So yelling at a process server that he is a creep and that you are not accepting the papers he gives you will not stop service.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU WEREN’T PROPERLY SERVED BUT THEY SAY THAT YOU WERE
If you were not properly served, but the court was told you were by the process server/police and you don’t respond, then the court can enter a default judgment against you. This can result in your driver’s license being suspended and interest bearing fines being levied against you if you don’t confront the issue.
When you challenge the sufficiency of service you must be very careful to only challenge the service itself. If you raise any other issue, the court can rule that you waived the service and accepted personal jurisdiction. This is not a good idea if you want to fight the ticket.
If you are improperly served with a photo ticket and want to challenge the service or if you are just in need of an experienced attorney to help fight the citation, Castillo Law is available 24/7 to take your call at (602) 795-6701 or 480-206-5204.