Antenori pays speed fine, clears status of license

Court says lawmaker was sent 4 notices that he owed money
2012-03-20T00:00:00Z Antenori pays speed fine, clears status of licenseKim Smith And Howard Fischer Arizona Daily Star Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star

State Sen. Frank Antenori paid off his 2009 photo radar speeding ticket on Monday, clearing up questions about the status of his driver's license.

Pima County Justice Court officials said Monday that computer issues at their end may have been a factor in the Motor Vehicle Division not receiving a notice Antenori's driver's license had been suspended for failing to appear at a hearing to contest his citation.

But that was just a guess and has not been confirmed, Justice Court Administrator Lisa Royal said.

Royal added that although the notice to the MVD, and subsequently to Antenori, of the suspension may have been lost, the lawmaker was sent several notices of his unpaid fine by the court collection agency.

The license issue came to light just as the Tucson Republican was working to resurrect legislation designed to help motorists avoid getting photo enforcement tickets for running red lights.

Antenori said Monday he believes the current definition of what constitutes an "intersection" is too narrow, which leads to safe drivers being cited.

He also is working to breathe new life into a measure to give voters a chance to ban photo enforcement entirely, both red light and speed cameras.

Antenori, who is a candidate for the Congressional District 8 seat vacated by Gabrielle Giffords, was cited by photo radar for driving 57 mph in a 45 mph zone on South Alvernon Way in August 2009.

After trying, without success, to have the ticket dismissed claiming legislative immunity, Antenori requested a hearing, set for February 2010. When he failed to appear, the hearing officer ruled his license would remain suspended until he paid the fine.

He paid his $312.25 fine to a collection agency early Monday, Royal said.

Antenori said it actually cost him a little more than that because the county turned the case over to collections which, he said, forced him to arrange for the collection agency to take a credit card payment over the phone, resulting in a $40 fee.

Exactly why the suspension notice was never recorded with MVD remains an unknown.

A spokesman for the MVD said the agency is checking to see if it can tell why the 2010 order of the hearing officer does not appear in state records.

Royal said that although the court normally notifies the MVD of suspensions electronically every day, there was a period of time in 2010 when clerks were manually entering suspensions.

"I think there must've been a glitch in the database," and that's why MVD wasn't aware of the suspension, Royal said.

"He still should've clearly known he owed money," Royal said. "The collection agency told us they sent him four notices."

The collection agency informed the court it told Antenori he owed the fine in April, May, June and July 2010, and the last notice indicated he was being reported to the credit bureaus, Royal said.

Antenori, also has a photo- enforcement citation pending in Scottsdale for running a red light, for which he has a May 12 hearing.

Antenori said the proposal to change how red-light cameras operate wouldn't have saved him from getting his Scottsdale ticket.

The current definition of an intersection includes the box that would be drawn if there were lines extended from each curb, allowing cities to set the "trip" area for red-light cameras in a way to catch more offenders, he said, which is designed not for safety but instead to generate revenues.

The new version of HB 2557, set for debate today in the Senate Appropriations Committee, would broaden what constitutes an intersection, reducing the number of people who could be cited.

A Phoenix police officer testified against the measure last week, saying he believes it will lead to more accidents and deaths. That led the House Transportation Committee to kill the measure, and triggered an angry shouting match between Antenori and the officer outside the hearing room.

Antenori is also pushing for a November measure to let voters in each community decide whether photo enforcement should be retained. SCR 1030 will be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

Contact Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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