FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: What is automated traffic enforcement?
A: The purpose of an automated traffic enforcement program is to augment traffic enforcement resources and to help positively impact driving behavior. Automated traffic enforcement equipment is able to be present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in order to identify excessive speeders. Cities in the United States have successfully implemented these types of programs for more than two decades.
Q: How does mobile speed monitoring equipment work?
A: Mobile units (sport utility vehicles) are deployed allowing them to change locations to manage changing traffic demographics and needs such as school and construction zones.
Mobile units are equipped with a radar unit that monitors vehicle speeds as traffic approaches and passes. If a vehicle is exceeding the 'enforcement' speed, the radar unit signals a camera to take a picture of the violating vehicle as it approaches the enforcement equipment and a second image as it goes past the enforcement equipment. These images document the vehicle, license plate, and speed.
Q: Do the cameras take a picture of every vehicle that drives by?
A: No. The system only captures high-resolution photographs and video if the system detects a violation. For speed monitoring systems, once an excessive speed is determined the cameras are triggered to generate images.
Q: Isn't conventional enforcement enough? Will the cameras replace officers?
A: Traditional traffic law enforcement is intensive and high-risk. When officers observe a violation, it is not always possible to safely stop the violator. It's also impossible for police departments to monitor the roadways on a round-the-clock basis. Automated traffic enforcement programs are designed to identify violators and lessen the need for the presence of police officers on the roadside. Conventional law enforcement will not go away with the use of automated traffic enforcement.
Q: Does an officer review my complaint before it is mailed?
A. Yes. Before a notice of violation is ever issued, a sworn law enforcement officer reviews the video footage to ensure that each violation is valid and can be prosecuted in court. A sworn officer determines whether a violation has occurred. Once a citation has been issued, drivers have the ability to review the photos and video at www.photonotice.com (city code: RRNCNM) to see why they were issued a notice of violation. The data bar on the violation photo contains information on location, posted speed limit and vehicle speed for your review. This evidence will be presented in court along with records indicating system accuracy. Automated traffic enforcement programs have been in use for more than 20 years and, in that time, the technology has proven extremely accurate and reliable.
Q: Do plate blockers and sprays work?
A: No. First and foremost, utilizing many of these products is illegal. Moreover, with the industrial flash technology, most of the sprays actually serve to enhance the image of a reflective surface like a license plate, making the evidence even more prosecutable.
Q: Is this more "Big Brother?"
A: Cameras have become a part of our everyday existence. If you shop at a store, use an ATM or fill up your car, you're on camera. When you choose to travel on public streets, you have a responsibility to operate in a safe and legal way. Automated traffic enforcement technology is simply one tool available to the community to ensure that citizens are driving in a safe and responsible manner for the benefit of themselves and those around them. Only violators are captured with high-resolution images and video.
Q: How much is using automated traffic enforcement going to cost taxpayers and the community?
A: The automated traffic enforcement program Rio Rancho is using is self-funded and does not require financial commitment from municipal government or from taxpayers. The technology provider builds, owns, operates and maintains the equipment and receives a fee for its service through violator generated funds.
Q: Are points assessed against my driver’s license for photo enforcement convictions?
A: No. Automated traffic enforcement programs are a civil violation, much like a parking ticket. It is not reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles or your insurance company.
Q: Does a speeding violation citation cost less if a police officer cites you on the roadway immediately after the violation occurs as opposed to a citation stemming from automated traffic enforcement?
A: No. In Rio Rancho, the fine for a speeding violation captured by automated traffic enforcement is a flat fee of $100. If a Rio Rancho Police Officer cites you on the roadway immediately after a speeding violation has occurred, the fine amount can be much higher.
Q: Why is the City not placing automated traffic enforcement equipment on N.M. 528/Pat D’Arco Highway?
A: N.M. 528/Pat D’Arco Highway is a state road and per a ruling by the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) Commission in March 2010, the placement of automated enforcement on state roads is restricted. However, pursuant to state law, state government receives a portion of each paid citation issued by any local program.