520-791-4389 - Traffic Investigations
Captain Jim McShea, Lieutenant Paul Tosca and Lieutenant Frank Hand provide command oversight for the following units in the Traffic Enforcement Division:
- Motorcycle Patrol
- Impaired Driving Enforcement (DUI Squad)
- Traffic Investigations
- Traffic Safety Camera Program
- Mandatory Impounds
- Special Duty
- False Alarms
An important part of the Tucson Police Department’s service to the community involves a continuous effort to improve traffic safety and facilitate the safe movement of vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians throughout the City. These are the primary goals of the Traffic Enforcement Division. In addition to the highly visible motorcycle officers deployed throughout the city, specially-trained traffic detectives respond to serious collisions, and commercial vehicle enforcement officers help ensure the safety of our community by monitoring the large trucks that also use our roadways. A special squad of impaired driving investigation experts are assigned to the Traffic Enforcement Division and provide enforcement in the field as well as education on subjects that include impaired driving.
Prevention activities are an important role of the Traffic Enforcement Division. Traffic officers perform car seat inspections and provide information at safety fairs, appearing at hundreds of speaking and demonstration engagements throughout the year, and providing specialized driving experiences to young drivers through several programs.
The Traffic Enforcement Division is headquartered at the Westside Police Service Center located at 1310 W. Miracle Mile. The station is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. excluding holidays.
Motorcycle Patrol (Motors)
Some of the most visible personnel in the Tucson Police Department are the officers and sergeants that are deployed on police motorcycles. In order to qualify to ride a police motorcycle, officers must first compete to be placed on an eligibility list. Officers are selected from this list to attend an intense four-week motorcycle training program. Riding a police motorcycle requires an enormous amount of skill development and practice. The motor officers in the Tucson Police Department are some of the most skilled in the country and have won numerous awards in riding competitions.
The primary job of a motor officer is traffic enforcement. Officers respond to traffic complaints and work enforcement in areas plagued with collisions. To aid in their traffic enforcement efforts, every police motorcycle is equipped with one of the latest models of laser speed measuring guns available. Motor officers utilize an electronic citation system to “swipe” a driver’s license into a handheld device to quickly complete citations. A portable printer on the motorcycle prints a copy of the citation for the driver.
Some of the most common causes of collisions in the Tucson area are speeding, failure to yield, failure to stop at a red light, and following too closely. Those who do not wear seatbelts and children who are not secured in car seats are especially vulnerable to injury in a collision. Motor officers will commonly look for these violations as well as others during their routine patrol and special enforcement details.
A secondary, but highly visible function of motors is working special events such as parades, races, or other events that require increased traffic safety. Special events that have an impact on vehicular and pedestrian traffic are planned and managed by the Traffic Enforcement Division.
Each day, large trucks carrying cargo of all types pass through Tucson. Some of these vehicles stay on the Interstate, while many others drive on surface streets to their destinations. Both I-10 and I-19 are major commerce corridors used by thousands of commercial vehicles on a daily basis, including those originating in Mexico. The size of these vehicles, as well as the varying types of cargo they carry, make the regulation of commercial vehicles an important component of traffic safety in Tucson.
A number of motor officers receive additional training in the federal laws that regulate commercial vehicles and conduct commercial vehicle enforcement. These officers carry specialized equipment that allows them to inspect vehicles for safety violations, weight restrictions, and operational concerns. Vehicles that are found to be improperly operated or with certain safety violations are parked until the situation can be rectified.
Impaired Driving Enforcement (DUI Squad)
The function of the DUI squad is to provide enforcement and education throughout the community in an effort to reduce impaired driving and its related tragedies. The staff assigned to the DUI squad accomplishes this task through a combination of citywide enforcement and education. Each member of the squad receives extensive training in areas that include alcohol and drug impaired driving investigation, breath testing device operation, phlebotomy, and speed detection equipment operation. Most officers in the squad hold numerous instructor certifications. This level of training is necessary as these experts in impaired driving investigation commonly train other law enforcement officers, testify in court, and perform numerous community lectures and events.
Although every officer in the field has received training in impaired driving investigation, the complexity of these investigations sometimes requires the services of an officer who specializes in alcohol or drug impaired driving. DUI squad officers assist in these investigations and provide the level of expertise that is needed to ensure impaired drivers are detected and appropriately investigated. To help with this task, DUI squad officers are assigned special vehicles that carry breath-testing instruments called intoxilyzers, supplies to draw blood, and impaired driving specific search warrant materials. This is important because many times the only physical evidence in an impaired driving case is the analysis of the breath or blood from the driver. By ensuring that chemical testing is done as quickly as possible, the most accurate information about a driver’s alcohol content can be presented. In cases of refusal to submit to chemical tests, evidence may be obtained through a search warrant issued by a judge for a driver’s blood.
DUI squad officers also provide information throughout the community. Education programs developed by the Tucson Police Department target underage drivers, school officials, parents, and law enforcement. Officers assigned to the DUI squad spend countless hours preparing for demonstrations and providing prevention information.
Unfortunately, collisions involving vehicles which result in serious injury or death are a part of our society. The investigation of these collisions is the responsibility of the sergeant and detectives of the Traffic Investigations Unit. When a serious collision occurs, members of this detail respond to the scene in an attempt to determine the factors responsible for the crash. Witnesses are interviewed, physical evidence from the roadway is obtained, evidence from the drivers may be obtained, and the entire scene is measured and diagramed using a state-of-the-art GPS system. The detectives in this detail receive extensive training in collision reconstruction and crash analysis to perform their job. Traffic detectives work closely with DUI squad officers in collisions where alcohol or drugs are potentially a factor. These collisions require careful investigation of both the impaired driver and the collision scene.
Traffic Safety Camera Program
The Traffic Safety Camera Program originated in late 2007 in response to Tucson being recognized as a national leader in fatal collisions related to red light violations. The camera program has had the desired results and has been successful at changing driver behavior. Police officers were assigned to the program to review every camera enforcement violation to ensure a citation is warranted prior to issuance. This procedure was designed to maintain the integrity of the camera enforcement program.
The City of Tucson is no longer processing citations through the Traffic Safety Camera Program in response to the passage of Proposition 201. Election results show that 65 percent of voters approved the referendum to end the red light cameras and photo enforcement vans. The change became effective on Wednesday, Nov. 4.
"The voters have spoken clearly on this issue," said City Manager Michael Ortega. "While the election results will not be certified until later this month, the City of Tucson wishes to honor the spirit and intent of the voters by ending the citations immediately following the election."
Proposition 201 is a public initiative that amends Tucson Code Section 20-2 to provide that no violation of Chapter 20 occurs if evidence is gathered through the use of automatic photo red light or speed cameras, and prohibiting City use or contracting for traffic control technology that does not produce a human, on-site eyewitness to testify in court.
Any citations issued prior to the shutdown at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015 are still valid and will be processed through the Tucson City Court. Traffic laws will continue to be enforced by motor and patrol officers.
Arizona state law 28-3511 requires the mandatory impound of a vehicle under specific circumstances. If a vehicle has been impounded, there are certain procedures that must be followed in order to have the vehicle released. Customer Service Representatives are available to assist members of the public with impound matters at our Impound office located at 1310 W. Miracle Mile.
The Impound office also handles oversize/overweight vehicle permits, annual permits, 30-day permits and single trip permits for a specific vehicle or piece of equipment. Applications and permit related questions are available on-line.
See Oversize/Overweight Load Permits under Frequently Asked Questions for further information.
This unit is staffed with three administrative assistants as authorized by the annual budget and assigned by the Chief of Police. This unit coordinates all secondary employment for sworn personnel within the department. Secondary employment is the hiring of police officers by an employer other than the City of Tucson to provide law enforcement related duties, such as security at a store.
Tucson City Code requires all alarm users (both business and residential) within the city limits of Tucson to register their alarms for a $20 annual fee. There is no fine associated with the failure to register an alarm, but the violator will be subject to higher assessments if Police do respond for a false alarm.
See the Alarm Information page for further information.