Colorado State Law

If you’re looking for information on how the photo radar and red light camera programs are authorized under state law, then you need to visit Title 42 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.  This title covers Uniform Motor Vehicle Law for the State of Colorado.  Specifically look at section 42-4-110.5 for “Automated Vehicle Identification Systems”.

From here you can read all the mundane details of the state code regarding these systems.  Keep in mind this is the state code and may not directly tie into the city or county code.  This page or site in general is no substitute for a good lawyer in Denver’s Administrative Kangaroo Court.  While Denver can write their own ordinances they can’t override state law.

The key points to look at here are what the state law effectively authorizes.

  • An operator must be present in the scamera van at all times to issue citations.  If you notice a van operating without an operator get out and document it.  Report it to the city and the news media immediately.
  • A citation cannot be issued unless the violation occurs in a school zone, residential neighborhood (streets with speed limit of 35 or less), construction area, or along a street that borders a park.
  • Proper signage is required.  For photo radar a temporary sign not fewer than 300 feet before the scamera trap must be posted to notify the public a fleecing operation is being conducted.  If you see a scamera operating without proper signage, again, report it to the city and news media.
  • The registered owner is not required to disclose the drivers of the vehicle.
  • No points may be assessed against the owner or driver.
  • An unpaid scamera ticket will not result in “booting” (immobilizing the vehicle).
  • You must be personally served for the scamera ticket to be valid. If you are not served within 90 days, the ticket is no longer valid and thrown out of the system.
  • Speeding of 25 MPH or more will not result in a scamera ticket as this is a criminal violation.

So what does this mean for the average citizen?  If you know you were caught by a scamera you will receive a notice in the mail requesting that you direct a donation to ACS and The City of Denver.  This letter, if sent First Class (not certified) is completely worthless and you are safe in ignoring it and any future notices that show up in your mailbox. At this time this author does not believe the City of Denver to be using certified mail to send notices.  If you ignore the notices the city may send a process server to your door. From the point of the violation until 90 days after they can serve you this violation and will be required to pay it.  If you effectively dodge the process server, after 90 days this ticket is tossed.  During this 90 day period do not answer the door for people you do not recognize.

This author has experience with the above situation on a couple scamera tickets issued by the city. I lived in an apartment complex with a secured front door entry. During this time I was also traveling extensively for work and was not home almost every week from Monday to Thursday. While I was home I received two knocks from unknown persons at my door and did not respond.  As the front door was locked and the process server did not use the call box to request entry I can only assume they “tailgated” another resident to gain access. In my mind this would be considered trespassing and could be an argument against improper process.  Again, I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, so consult one if you are in doubt.

I had a conversation with my neighbor who said she noticed people knocking at my door and on one occasion they questioned her as to my whereabouts.  She told them that I was traveling quite extensively at the time and she was unaware of the details of my travel schedule. He also noted to her that my car was in the garage and he felt I was home.  Again, I have a feeling that browsing parked cars in the lower two garage levels of the building would be considered trespassing, but, not a lawyer.  My car being parked there while I was away was quite routine as I would often take a taxi to the airport.

Also, a year prior, while living outside of the City and County of Denver in one of the farther removed burbs I received a scamera ticket and never once had a process server visit that I was aware of.  If you’re from out of town, the likelihood of the city sending a process server for a $40 – $85 ticket is more remote.

While there are other ways to avoid the tickets, such as registering your wife’s car in your husbands name, and vice versa, or using a business name or private mailbox, the simplest method is to just ignore the process servers.  If they do serve you then you are forced to pay the process fee.  In my mind, I consider dodging them to be a safer bet than any crap table or slot machines in Vegas!  If everyone stopped giving their money away the system would be completely overwhelmed and would collapse.


  1. I keep seeing the photo speed enforcement vans on MLK Drive in Stapleton. Got a ticket the first time, but noticed that there was no signage within 300 feet of the vehicle (circled around to check). This time I circled around after seeing a van and video-taped the incident using my cell phone. No signage anywhere. Don’t think I got a ticket as I was within the speed limit. But got a flash anyway. These guys are out of control. Can’t follow their own rules. Who do I need to speak to about these unlawful violations?

  2. Have you received a ticket in the mail from this incident or you referring to a difference incident in your first sentence? I was faced with a similar incident a couple years ago on MLK in the Park Hill neighborhood. My radar detector alerted me and I spotted the van a couple blocks up. I didn’t notice the signage, so like you I turned around to verify. I pulled over, parked a couple blocks away and began filming as I approached, making sure the lack of signage was documented. She was not happy to see me there with my camera and assured me that she was only there for training and that no actual tickets were being issued. I thanked her for the information and told her I hoped the economy improved so she didn’t need to seek employment as a road pirate. I saw the light flash several times as cars drove by. When I left it flashed again on me doing exactly 34 in a 35. I kept the video for a few months and never received a donation request in the mail. If you don’t receive one of these donation requests then you are fine. If you do receive one, I would immediately bring it to the attention of this site and the news media.

  3. I’m an Uber/Lyft driver, and on a few occasions with a rider in my car, I mentioned as we were passing by an active scamera van that I had previously received an $80 scamera ticket (which I paid). More than one rider rider told me, “you know you don’t have to pay those”, and one guy told me that he had received five or six and had not paid once. After receiving my second $80 scamera ticket, I researched this online, came across your blog and decided to experiment with not paying.

    The “notice of violation” – which occurred on 7/7/2015 – was dated 8/12/2015 and indicated a “respond by” date of 8/27/2015.. The “failure to respond” notice was dated 9/2/2015. More than 90 days have passed since the violation date of 7/7/2015, and I have not been “personally served” a “Penalty Assessment Notice” either in person or via any sort of certified or registered mail/courier service. I live in the Belmar area of Lakewood and am often home during the day, and I’m not aware of any knocks on my door that I wasn’t expecting.

    I’ll update this comment with any further news, but from everything I’ve researched, I should be okay not to pay!

  4. Should you decide to sidestep a robo-ticket, you’ll only need to avoid being served for a portion of the 90 days, as the city won’t serve you until after your pay-by date has passed. After my ticket, I had 54 days to pay, followed by 38 days of not opening the front door to strangers.

    Read your entire ticket before you decide.

  5. I just received a citation with a picture of me driving with traffic. Makes no sense that they can take a picture of a car driving and send them a bill for it! Has anything changed about this in the past few years?

  6. As far as we’re aware the law has not changed. You may ignore the “citation”. You will receive a second notice in the mail for failure to respond. You can ignore that one as well. Depending on where you live they may attempt to deliver a certified letter to your registration address. Do not go pick it up. They may also send a process server to your home to personally serve the citation. Don’t answer the door for people you do not know. After 90 days it goes away, you keep your money, and you cost the city money for their attempt at bilking you.

  7. What about in a school zone? Can you still avoid them for 90 days if it was a picture ticket in a school zone?

  8. Correct. Doesn’t matter where, as long as you avoid personal service you’re in the clear according to state law. For further information I would seek the advice of a legal professional as we are not lawyers here.

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