A DRIVER has racked up dozens of speeding tickets in photo radar zones while sporting monkey and giraffe masks. He is fighting every one by claiming the costumes make it impossible for authorities to prove he was behind the wheel.
"You've got to identify the driver, and if you can't, it's not a valid ticket," said Dave VonTesmar, a 47-year-old flight attendant.
It took Arizona state police months to realise the same driver was involved and was refusing to pay the fines. By the time they did, more than 50 of the tickets had become invalid because the deadline for prosecution had passed.
Authorities have since stepped up their efforts to ensure that Mr VonTesmar pays his fines, which amount to US$6,700 ($9,500).
Last month, the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) served Mr VonTesmar in person with 37 tickets.
The pictures accompanying the tickets show a driver wearing either a monkey or giraffe mask in Mr VonTesmar's white Subaru, which has black-and-white checkered racing stickers on its sides and a sticker on the windshield that reads "Bucktooth Racing".
Agency spokesman Bart Graves also said authorities have surveillance photos of Mr VonTesmar putting on masks before driving, and believes that they will convince the court that he was the one behind the wheel and must pay his tickets.
Mr VonTesmar, who said he simply drives with the flow of traffic, said if the DPS does have surveillance photos of him on the road, it proves he's not a danger to other drivers. If he were, officers would have pulled him over, he said.
Arizona began deploying the stationary and mobile cameras on state highways a year ago. It has issued more than 497,000 tickets. Of those, about 132,000 recipients had paid the fine of US$165 plus a 10 per cent penalty.
Arizona is the first to deploy such technology on highways statewide.
Many of the remaining tickets are either new, being appealed or have just been ignored. Backlash
However, the backlash against the cameras has been fairly constant. Arizonans have used sticky notes and even a pickaxe to sabotage the cameras.
Shawn Dow, chairman of the Arizona Citizens Against Photo Radar, said he is not sure whether Mr VonTesmar has affected its cause, AP reported.
Mr Dow said he finds it interesting that the agency had conducted surveillance on Mr VonTesmar. He said: "They're out staking out a guy with a monkey mask? If they had pulled him over, they could have pulled the mask off. It just proves photo radar is not about safety, it's about money."
Added Mr VonTesmar: "It's a peaceful act of resistance. I'm not thumbing my nose at DPS, but photo radar is not a DPS officer protecting public safety. It's nothing but a speed tax."