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Masked speeder owes $67,000 in fines

[ 2009-09-14 13:13]     字号 [] [] []  
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PHOENIX: Speed camera photos of the man in the monkey and giraffe masks have generated lots of chuckles. But the cops aren't laughing.

Dave VonTesmar, 47, started getting the $181.50 tickets last year, but it took Arizona state police several months to realize the same driver was repeatedly triggering speed cameras and refusing to pay the fines. By the time they did, more than 50 of the tickets had become invalid because the deadline for prosecution had passed.

VonTesmar, who has now amassed $67,000 in fines, is fighting each citation by claiming he wasn't behind the wheel.

In Arizona, people who get photo-enforcement tickets in the mail have four options: Agree they were driving and pay the fine, say they weren't driving and send in their driver's license photo as proof, request a court date and fight the ticket, or simply ignore the ticket because law enforcement can't prove they received it. The ticket becomes invalid if a violator who ignores it isn't served in person within three months.

On August 19, VonTesmar was served in person with 37 tickets, mostly between 15-24 kph over the speed limit. The pictures accompanying the tickets show a driver wearing either a monkey or giraffe masks in VonTesmar's white Subaru, which has black-and-white checkered racing stickers on its sides and a sticker on the windshield that reads "Bucktooth Racin'".

"It's a peaceful act of resistance - that's what this country was founded on," VonTesmar, a flight attendant, said from Houston. "I'm not thumbing my nose at DPS, but photo radar is not a DPS officer protecting public safety. It's nothing but a speed tax."

VonTesmar didn't deny that he was the driver wearing the masks. But he did say, "They can't prove I was operating the vehicle. You've got to identify the driver, and if you can't it's not a valid ticket."

But like other people DPS refers to as "frequent fliers," VonTesmar received some special attention.

Agency spokesman Bart Graves said DPS has surveillance photos of VonTesmar putting on masks before driving and believes that they will convince justice court judges in three area cities that he was the one behind the wheel and must pay his tickets.

"We have pretty strong evidence against him," Graves said. "We're just asking for his fines to be paid."

Arizona began deploying the stationary and mobile cameras on state highways on September 26, 2008, and through September 4 had issued more than 497,000 tickets.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Masked speeder owes $67,000 in fines

About the broadcaster:

Masked speeder owes $67,000 in fines

Chantal Anderson is a multimedia journalist at the China Daily Web site. Originally from Seattle, Washington she has found her way around the world doing photo essays in Greece, Mexico and Thailand. She is currently completing a double degree in Journalism and International Studies from the University of Washington.