Ohio Supreme Court to hear traffic cameras case

Lawsuits claim camera enforcement violates constitutional rights to due process and bypasses courts
Associated Press
Jun 9, 2014

The Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments this week about traffic cameras, though that doesn't signal a stop yet to the growing legal challenges to their use in ticketing motorists for running red lights or speeding.

Motorists filed lawsuits last week against two Dayton suburbs, charging that their camera enforcement violates constitutional rights to due process and bypasses courts. That brings the number of court cases against cameras to at least eight.

The state Senate president says he expects legislative action on cameras before the year's end.

The Ohio Municipal League has said the case against the city of Toledo's cameras that justices will hear Wednesday could affect "every Ohioan who drives or owns a vehicle." And a legal expert says the eventual ruling by Ohio's high court has implications beyond cameras because the lawsuit contends that the city is usurping judicial authority by administering traffic cases itself.

"It's a balance-of-power issue," said Ohio State University law professor Ric Simmons, noting that the test of cities' executive powers against judicial authority could produce "a long-ranging decision."

Most of the state's largest cities have traffic cameras, and several, including Columbus, Cleveland and Dayton, have filed written legal arguments supporting Toledo's cameras, as have companies that own and operate the traffic cameras. Proponents contend the cameras free up police for other crime-fighting duties and make communities safer.

Toledo's camera vendor and co-defendant, Redflex Traffic Systems of Phoenix, says it has operated camera systems in Ohio for more than a decade and is confident they have helped improve public safety.

"Redflex intends to vigorously defend these traffic safety camera programs as they are legal and consistent with Ohio law," spokeswoman Jody Ryan said in a statement.

Critics say cameras are aimed at raising money more than improving safety and contend that the automated systems don't give ticketed motorists a fair chance to challenge evidence, confront accusers and have their day in court.

"I believe most Ohioans have serious concerns about traffic cameras," Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, told reporters last week, adding that he thinks they can be effective and efficient but that the public doesn't trust cities' contentions that they are there for safety, not revenue.

Bills that would sharply restrict camera enforcement are pending. They would require that a police officer be present and add modifications such as more sign warnings for motorists.

Ghassan Deek, a University of Dayton law school student and a plaintiff, said he was caught off-guard last year when he got a mailed citation for speeding because of a traffic camera.

"I didn't even know they existed," said Deek, who thinks someone might have borrowed his car. "I got ticketed by a machine."

Simmons said the ruling, regardless of what it is, could lead to new legislation. And legislative bans could lead to cities countering in court that their "home rule" powers under the Ohio Constitution were being undermined. The high court ruled in 2008 that those powers allowed Akron to have traffic cameras.

"The battle will go on," Simmons said.

Josh Engel, an attorney involved in lawsuits that won lower-court rulings halting cameras in two southwest Ohio villages, said the cases have drawn the attention of unhappy motorists in other communities who want to sue. In one, a Hamilton County judge last year compared Elmwood Place's camera system to a con artist's card game, calling it "a scam" against thousands of motorists who racked up $105 speeding fines within weeks of the cameras' installation.

"Every time we file one of these, we hear from more and more people in different areas," Engel said.

 

Comments

Rosa

We need our police officers for more important crimes. I think this is great and maybe would prevent more accidents. Too bad we did not have cameras that detect texting while driving. That would prevent some major accidents!

yea right

does not prove who was driving..it could have been you kids..or spouse..or in-laws.. and it takes a few months to get you..do you know who was driving you car April 12 2014 at 9:05pm ?? (random)

deertracker

Doesn't matter. You are responsible for your car!

holysee

Spray paint can mounted on a stick.
Bumper stickers.
Oil smeared.
Very large sock.
Paintballs.
Cable cutters.
Microwave blast.
Laser beam.
Post it notes.
Cardboard box.
B CREATIVE

watched_ones

They should do away with them and let police do their jobs. What happened to our "freedom?" This is getting Outa hand. Might as well let them put chips in each person at birth so they know where you are every second of the day. This would help prevent kidnapping too. You people that think this is ok are probably the same people who would agree to what I just said. How bout bugging everyone's phone as well? Wouldn't that prevent drug deals and alot of other crime as well?

getit right be4...

+1

deertracker

Your iphone lets "them" know where you are. Cell phone too. Where have you been?

watched_ones

Well I know that and that would be my choice to get a phone or not. This is not our choice as citizens. So go somewhere else with your stupid comments

richrs

Dude don't get your panties all ruffled I think Deer was choice pointing something out and you come across like a douche.

TKeegan73's picture
TKeegan73

These camera's are not legal and totally infringe on your rights. I received a ticket from one of these traffic camera's out of Toledo with the violation date being several months back from the time I received it in the mail. I called to set up a court hearing to appeal it and was advised to either pay the $155 ticket or have a warrant issued for my arrest. I told them issue a warrant because I would not pay it until I had my day in court. The picture they sent me wasn't even a pic of any of my vehicles nor my plate, law states that the ticketing officer has to be present in court for an appeal or a "not guilty" plea. Also on the ticket there is no calibration time or date for the radar so it makes it inaccurate and not legal. I received this ticket from Toledo Court back in May of 2007 and still haven't paid it nor have they given me a court date, not sure what the statue of limitations is on these but I'm thinking that since it has been 7 years I doubt I will hear anything from them. Placing an officer at the intersection where these camera's are being used is just stupid, if you are going to do that then get rid of the camera and have the officer setting there actually do some work and pull people over and ticket them. If an officer clocks me speeding then I am guilty as long as my ticket is properly filled out and it shows a calibration time and date being within 24 hours of the violation, if it isn't filled out properly then when I go to court I can have it all thrown out of court. Now the Police Camera's that are posted up that rotate 360 degrees and actually has an officer setting and watching them serve a purpose for safety as they can see criminal activity in real time and be able to dispatch units to an exact location to assist in problems or even help save lives are a great idea in my book because it helps in high crime area's. It gives the Police an advantage on stopping crime in progress or even prevent it from happening and it helps with apprehending criminals thus it helps cut down on crime in high crime area's. The traffic cam's are nothing more than a violation of your rights and aren't as accurate as they try and make everyone believe and only a portion of the money goes to the city or community and the rest goes to this Arizona based company that actually owns the camera's(FYI-the larger portion of the money goes to the private company and serves your community in no way). I for one hope that the State bans these traffic cams and they do away with them, they have not made intersections safer and I have not seen any proof on paper to validate how much safer they are now as to before the camera's presence at the intersections. I also seen a comment about having camera's that detect cell phone usage and ticketing people that way, I hope they would use those to ticket law officials for the same violation then also. I was just in Sandusky last week and was almost side swiped by a SPD cruiser because the officer driving was playing with his phone while he was driving, I actually could see him texting on his cell phone while he was driving and then he drifted into my lane and almost hit me and I had my 2 kids in the car plus my infant Grand Daughter, so I laid on my horn only to get a dirty look and then get followed through Sandusky by the officer for over a mile as he rode my back bumper(less than 6ft behind me). I was hoping he would pull me over so I could request another officer to come to the location to ticket this irresponsible officer but after him following too closely for way too long I pulled into a gas station and he went and pulled into the next lot past where I pulled in and waited for me to pull back out onto the road just so he could pull right back out behind me and actually cut another car off just to do it so I drove straight to the Police Station and when he realized I was going to pull in he sped up and passed me as I slowed to pull in. A police officer has more distractions in their cruiser than needed to be and to add a cell phone to the mix just makes it even worse, maybe Police Departments should implement no personal phones in the cruiser while on duty.....JMHO

Donegan

If someone gets a ticket by one just ask to face the accuser in court.
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense." 6th amendment
It is your constitutional right to face your accuser, If they are unwilling to take the thing down to drag into court then it must be thrown out as a breach of your rights.

getit right be4...

This right does not apply to civil case. They treat these tickets a civil case.

KURTje

I know when I traveled with a trailer I was doing a couple miles less than posted limit. Never ever been in that area I got slammed with a red light and had no choice but to go through it. My actions weren't planned that way but I could not safely stop at 45mph . Glad there was no camera there. Again that was not planned either.