The city of Rio Rancho has garnered nearly $700,000 from the Mobile Speed Monitoring Units over the past two fiscal years.

With eight such units operating in the city, proceeds from the program are split 50/50 with the state, according to public records. In fiscal year 2022, the program netted a total of $573,617 followed by an additional $742,580 in fiscal year 2023, totaling $1,316,197 over the two-year period. After the contracted split with the state, Rio Rancho brought in $294,754 in FY 2022 and $387, 307 in FY 2023, totaling $682,061 for the city.

That money is used for new police vehicle acquisition, according to the city of Rio Rancho.

The city contracts with RedFlex to operate the eight Mobile Speed Monitoring Units, or speed vans, in an effort to discourage speeding in the city. “The governing body finds that some drivers in the city repeatedly violate posted speed limits; that state law against speeding is inadequate to preserve public safety in the city; that photographic and electronic devices that measure speed are accurate and reliable; and that implementation of enforcement of speed limits by means of photographic and electronic equipment will abate the nuisance of speeding,” the Safe Traffic Operations Program chapter of the municipal code reads.

The city pays a ranging amount per month to RedFlex to operate the program. For fewer than 100 citations paid per month, the city pays $42.56; for 101-150, the rate is $37.24; and for more than 151 per month, the rate is $26.60. There is also, according to a February 2018 letter, an $833.33 monthly fee the city pays to RedFlex for “additional services,” including “to process nominations, readdress citation notices, schedule court hearings, and accept payments for citations authorized.” The city of Rio Rancho paid $18,854 to operate the program in FY 2023 and $23,364 in FY 2022, totaling $42,218 over the two-year period.

Additionally, RedFlex, according to the agreement, is responsible for all repair and maintenance of equipment and vehicle maintenance not caused by excessive wear and tear. That amount was not available in the records request. However, the city is required to reimburse RedFlex for any damage by any of the city’s employees, contractors or agents.

By the numbers

The amount the city receives each month varies. Throughout FY 2022 and 2023, the city received as many as 1,716 citation payments in one month (August 2021) down to as few 257 citation payments made in June 2023.

Additionally, not every violation flagged by the system ends up getting approved and processed. A chart provided by RedFlex breaks down citations, with incidents being rejected for various reasons, such as some form of obstruction, emergency vehicle responses, duplicates, registration issues, camera malfunctions or weather issues. An officer also reviews all incidences for accuracy and has the discretion to dismiss incidents as well.

In FY 2022, a total of 34,006 incidents were captured by the units. Of those, 12,730 were rejected for various reasons, including 307 for “police discretion.” In FY 2023, the total number of incidents was 21,989 with 7,667 being rejected (305 for “police discretion).

In total, 21,276 violations were approved and printed in FY 2022 and 14,271 in FY 2023.

According to the monthly payment reports provided by RedFlex, the total number of citations paid in FY 2022 was 11,744, indicating a 55.2% payment rate. However, that percentage isn’t entirely reliable as several payments came from past-due citations with the oldest being issued in September 2013.

Those numbers all went down in FY 2023. The total number of citations paid for that year was 7,238, indicating a payment rate of 50.7%. However, as in 2022, some of those payments were from past-due citations with one dating as far back as October 2011.

The process

Once a citation is approved and printed, it is issued to the vehicle’s registered owner.

Upon receiving a citation, the owner has several options. They have 35 days to pay the fine, request a hearing or, in cases where the registered owner was not the driver, identify the person driving at the time of the citation so the fine may be assessed to them.

Those who elect to pay the fine also has the option to, after passing a background check, volunteer for the city at the rate of $10 per hour.

Those who opt for a hearing may present one of several defenses: that the vehicle was stolen or driven without the owner’s knowledge or consent, for which a police report must be presented; that the ownership had been transferred to another person at a time prior to the infraction, for which proof of transfer must be presented; that the evidence doesn’t show the violation was committed in the suspect vehicle; that the registered owner was not driving the vehicle at the time of the violation and, as stated above, identify the person who was driving; or that the registered owner never received the notice due to it not being mailed to the address on file with Department of Motor Vehicles.

If none of those options is not elected within the 35-day timeframe, the citation will then go into default, where any right to requesting a hearing are forfeited and a late fee of $25 is added to the fine.