A new bill has been proposed in Arizona that would make it a crime if you conceal your identity while you break the law.
In 2009, Dave VonTesmar allegedly tried to get out of almost 40 speed camera tickets on the freeway by simply wearing a mask. Phoenix-area highway speed cameras snapped a picture of someone wearing a monkey mask in VonTesmar’s car almost 40 times in 2009 alone.
VonTesmar says that at least half of his tickets were thrown out by different judges. While some tickets were tossed out, approximately $3,000 worth of tickets and fines have been sent to collections with VonTesmar still refusing to pay. He claims that there is still no proof of him being the masked person driving his car. “I kept sending them a photo license with every infraction, because they’re not violations,” he said. “They’re infractions. I still have a perfect driving record.”
Currently, there is no law in Arizona that criminalizes concealing identity when committing a crime, making it difficult for prosecutors to pursue these types of cases. A new law would change that, making it a separate penalty to attempt to avoid prosecution by taking steps to conceal your identity.
Arizona lawmakers are trying to make sure these types of actions have much stiffer penalties. Several state representatives are sponsoring HB 2143. If this bill passed, wearing any personal disguise, including a mask, would be a misdemeanor if it was worn while committing a public offense or in an attempt to avoid being caught.
This statute would apply to anyone attempting to outsmart red light or speed cameras. California already has an identical law on the books.
The problem of identity concealment may not be solved as simply as passing a new law, however. In order to identify and punish these offenders, prosecutors will need more evidence than a statement that someone concealed his or her identity. If the new law passes, it remains to be seen what standard of proof prosecutors will use in deciding whether or not to bring charges against those alleged to have violated identity concealment statutes or how they will identify perpetrators.
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