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Fines may rise for drivers not slowing for police, tow trucks on Arizona highways


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Companion bill makes it OK to pay in community service

PHOENIX — Speeding past a stopped police vehicle or tow truck could soon take a big chunk out of your wallet.

But you might be able to work it off — at $12.15 an hour.


The state House has voted to boost the penalty on those who violate Arizona's Move Over Law.


That statute spells out that motorists approaching a stopped vehicle with flashing lights must move over to a lane not adjacent to that car or truck. And if that's not possible, they are required to at least slow down.


Current law sets the maximum penalty at $250. But Angela Barnett, executive director of the Arizona Professional Towing and Recovery Association, said that apparently isn't enough to get the attention of motorists.


During hearings on House Bill 2294, she told lawmakers that 46 "responders'' stopped on the side of roads were killed last year nationwide by drivers who ran into them. That includes not just state and local police but operators of tow trucks.


And in Arizona the tally also included a worker for the state Department of Transportation incidence response unit, "all responders that were just trying to do their job.''


The measure sponsored by Rep. Kevin Payne, R-Peoria, which now goes to the governor, sets the penalty for a first violation at $275.


A second offense within five years will set the driver back $500, with a $1,000 fine for a third or subsequent violation within that time period.


If you can't afford it, Rep. Leo Biasiucci has a solution. The Lake Havasu City Republican got colleagues to approve legislation that allows a judge to let any person work off a traffic fine through community service.


The idea, he testified in committee, was borne out of his own experience when he got a ticket in Phoenix for parking in an alley.

"No signs were posted so I decided to fight it,'' Rep. Biasiucci said.


That landed him in municipal court where he found others also seeking to get out of their citations.


"Over and over again I kept seeing people who were held responsible for their violations,'' he said. "They couldn't afford it and they would ask the judge for some kind of payment plan.


What Biasiucci said he learned is that a payment plan costs $30 to set up.


"I thought to myself that this is crazy that you have people who are getting a speeding ticket, they can't afford the ticket, and they just keep going down this rabbit hole,'' he said, with the failure to pay leading to even more fines.


"And that's not what we want,'' Rep. Biasiucci said. "We don't want these people losing their license, losing their registrations because they couldn't pay a speeding ticket.''


His House Bill 2110 allows — but does not require — a judge to offer an option for community service.


It would be up to the judge to decide where and what.


"It's a win-win,'' Rep. Biasiucci said of his bill which has been approved by the House and Senate and now awaits gubernatorial action.


"You have people giving back to the community,'' he continued. "They're doing community service. They're paying off their fines.''


The work would be credited at the hourly rate of the state minimum wage. That is currently $12.15 an hour but, by law, is adjusted annually to account for inflation.


Rep. Biasiucci never did tell his colleagues whether he beat that traffic ticket.




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