A Speeding Ticket By Mail? It Could Happen To You This Holiday Weekend

July 2009

The Fourth of July is one of the busiest traffic days of the year and many motorists will be travelling to unfamiliar areas — often outside of their home state. Local residents are usually well aware of the quirks of their community’s traffic laws, but unfortunately most out-of-state visitors don’t have that luxury.

While the majority of drivers are wary of increased holiday traffic enforcement patrols — and take measures to protect themselves from undeserved tickets — it may surprise even the most experienced drivers that some states are no longer relying solely on human officers to hand out the tickets.

Speed cameras, which take pictures of vehicles that exceed the speed limit and send tickets to the owners of those vehicles, have spread across the country and are now used in several states. Motorists who don’t live in areas with speed cameras are likely to be taken completely by surprise by these automated ticketing machines.

The National Motorists Association (www.motorists.org) strongly opposes the use of ticket cameras and has been an outspoken leader in the fight to ban them nationwide. Currently, fourteen states have decided to ban ticket cameras and the momentum is growing in other states as well.

It has become clear that many aspects of ticket camera programs in these states are unfair to motorists:

* Most governments using speed cameras send out tickets via first class mail. However, there is no guarantee that the accused motorists will even receive the ticket, let alone understand it and know how to respond. Nevertheless, the government makes the assumption that the ticket was received. If motorists fail to pay, it is assumed that they did so on purpose, and a warrant may be issued for their arrest.

* Typically, the photos taken by these cameras do not identify the actual driver of the offending vehicle. The owner of the vehicle is mailed the ticket, even if the owner was not driving the vehicle and may not know who was driving at the time. The owner of the vehicle is then forced to prove his or her innocence, often by identifying the actual driver who may be a family member, friend or employee.

* Drivers may not receive citations until days or sometimes weeks after the alleged violation. This makes it very difficult to defend oneself because it would be hard to remember the circumstances surrounding the supposed violation.

Despite these critical flaws, and the lack of evidence showing that speed cameras have any effect on the safety of motorists, some states continue to insist on using them to pad their budgets.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there are 49 communities using these automated ticket machines. Drivers should be aware that the communities listed below have decided that cashing in on motorists is more important than protecting the rights of drivers:

Statewide (Arizona Department of Public Safety), Chandler, El Mirage, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Pinal County, Prescott Valley, Scottsdale, Star Valley, Tempe, Tucson

Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins

District of Columbia

Statewide (work zones)


Broussard, Gretna, Lafayette, Livingston Parish, New Orleans, Sulphur, Westwego, Zachary

Montgomery County


New Mexico
Albuquerque, Las Cruces

Akron, East Cleveland, Northwood, Parma, Toledo, West Carrollton

Beaverton, Medford, Portland

Chattanooga, Jackson, Jonesborough, Mount Carmel, Oak Ridge, Red Bank, Selmer

Bremerton, Burien, Issaquah, Monroe, Tacoma

Source: IIHS May 2009

NMA Press Release Archives

When You Hit the Road this Thanksgiving, “Do the Right Thing” and Let Faster Traffic Pass  November 2014

The Fleecing of U.S. Motorists: States that Collect the Most Tolls, Taxes and Fines also Divert More from Highway Spending  August 2014

National Motorists Association Identifies States that Exploit Drivers the Most  May 2014

National Motorists Association Takes Red-Light Camera Fight to Airwaves  February 2014

Major Upgrade to Popular Site Includes Spotlight on Worst Speed Traps  August 2013

Flawed Surveys Distort Public Opinion on Red-Light Cameras  May 2013

FHWA Rebuked for Inadequate Safety Standards for Signalized Intersections  November 2012

Nationwide Poll Reveals Top U.S. and Canadian Speed Traps  August 2012

Where Are You Most Likely to Get a Speeding Ticket?  May 2012

NMA Issues Challenge to Cities Using Red-Light Ticket Cameras  November 2011

U.S. and Canadian Cities with Highest Speed Trap Activity Identified  September 2011

Website Publishes Holiday Travel Information That Apple and RIM Won’t  July 2011

National Motorists Association Declares June “Lane Courtesy Month”  May 2011

When you see a police car on the side of the road, it should make you feel more safe.
So why doesn’t it?

Across the United States, even the most careful, safe drivers on the road would probably admit to being nervous when they spot a police officer enforcing traffic laws. Instead of inspiring feelings of safety, our traffic laws are used to create fear. Can this ever change?

The NMA Questions the Motivation Behind MADD’s Support of Ignition Interlock Devices  November 2010

The Worst Speed Trap Cities In North America  September 2010

Speeding Tickets By State: Where Are Drivers Most Likely To Be Ticketed?  July 2010

Dispelling Highway Construction Zone Myths  May 2010

Hide Your Wallet: 7 Places To Avoid Driving Through This Holiday Weekend  September 2009

A Speeding Ticket By Mail? It Could Happen To You This Holiday Weekend  July 2009

Watch Your Wallet When Driving Through These 10 States  May 2009

Motorist Group Warns Drivers To Look Out For Record-High Traffic Enforcement Levels  May 2008

Worst Speed Trap Cities In The USA – November 2007  November 2007

NMA Calls for Special Session to Repeal Virginia Ticket Tax  July 2007

June is Lane Courtesy Month  June 2007

Top Speed Traps In The USA – May 2007   May 2007

Top Speed Traps In The USA – June 2006  June 2006

Albo’s Motivation Should Be Questioned  February 2006

10th Anniversary of the Repeal of the 55 NMSL  December 2005

Simple Measures Could Make Big Difference in Gas Consumption  September 2005

Court to Rule on Motorist’s Right to Twelve-Person Jury  December 2004

Motorist Group Challenges DOT DUI Claims  March 2004

Citzen Outrage Over $300 Fines   March 2004

Use of Road Funds by State Police May Violate Michigan Constitution   November 2003

New Fees Target Michigan Drivers  September 2003

Fix The Problem, Not Your Budget (National Stop on Red Week)  September 2002

$10,000 Ticket Camera Challenge  May 2002

Alcohol-Related Deaths Increase  October 2001

National Motorists Association Responds to New Jersey’s 65 Mph Speed Limit Report  August 2001

Revenue Drives Red Light Cameras, Not Safety  July 2001

Cities At Fault For Red Light Violations, Not Drivers  July 2001

Red Light Citations Drop Below One Per Day  July 2001

Saturn Boycott  March 2001

Montana: No Speed Limit-Safety Paradox  February 2000

Getting More Miles Per Gallon  February 2000

Labor Day Travelers Beware: Police Are Preparing Their Ticket Books!  September 1999

Foundation Study Shows: Safe To Raise Freeway Speed Limits  March 1999

Great Year for Highway Safety!  January 1999

Study Confirms Fine Doubling Doesn’t Work  October 1998