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How to Beat a Photo Radar Ticket! 

As photo radar becomes more popular with City Hall, enterprising violators are coming up with strategies for beating it. If you get caught speeding or running a red light by photo radar, the evidence against you--a photo or videotape of the violation--is pretty clear-cut. But there is at least one legal strategy available to you.

Arizona law requires that you get your traffic citation from a police officer or a process server. Since the tickets that are mailed to violators don't meet that legal standard, you have the option of tossing the citation in the trash.

If you do that, however, police officers or the company that runs the cameras can then send a cop or a process server to deliver the summons--and you're going to have to pay for it. In Scottsdale, it adds $26 to your fine.

Here's the trick: The city has only 120 days to serve you, so if you can dodge the process server for about four months, the ticket is dismissed.

You can also make it harder for authorities to find you by listing a post-office box as your address on your car's registration. That will require police or the company to do a little extra detective work to hunt down your address. You can make it an even more tangled legal trail by registering your car under the name of a corporation.

There are also devices that drivers can use to try to thwart the cameras. "Radar" Roy Reyer, a retired Maricopa County police officer, runs a Web site, radarbusters.com, that offers a range of devices.

Reyer fights technology with technology using a GPS gizmo that alerts drivers when they approach fixed red-light cameras and well-known speed traps. Cost: $239.95.

He also sells a plastic plate to cover your license plate. He maintains the covers--which sell from $24.95 to $69.95--will distort your license number when the camera takes a photo of it.

Reyer insists that the plastic covers work. "We tested our stuff," Reyes says. "The covers are effective."

Mike Phillips, a spokesman for the city of Scottsdale, dismisses the idea that the cameras are fooled by the covers. "This idea that you can somehow put a plastic cover over your plate, and it's going to thwart the camera--all the things that I've seen show that it's ineffective," says Phillips.

Tucson's call for bids specifies that the cameras must work on plates that have plastic covers, which Pryor also calls ineffective.

But people who go to the trouble of installing them worry him. "If people are doing that just so they can speed, they're probably dangerous on the road," Pryor says.

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