MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio — Two Northeast Ohio communities are considering installing speed cameras to help catch speeders coming through their streets.
Elected leaders consistently make the case that fixed cameras and hand-held devices used by officers will help cut down on reckless driving while others assert the technology is simply a way for municipalities to bringing more revenue without taxing residents.
The cameras raise a lot of questions in Ohio, at least two of which the state Supreme Court is currently working through: due process and if the cities should be allowed to keep the extra revenue the cameras generate.
“The speed cameras are operating in a constantly-shifting legal landscape,” said Civil Rights Attorney Joshua Engel.
He currently has a case in front of the Ohio Supreme Court where he’s defending speeders suing a city in southwest Ohio over their use of speed cameras.
“The cities have tried to suggest that you don’t have to treat [tickets from speed cameras] like a regular speeding ticket,” said Engel. “You can treat it as something special.”
When drivers get a speeding ticket from an officer who has pulled us over on the highway, drivers can take it to court, make sure the officer’s radar equipment was working properly on the day they wrote the ticket, and appeal to the judge to dismiss or reduce the penalties.
Speed cameras are generally run by private companies and cities often try to set up streamlined, administrative hearings where citizens have fewer chances to make the case that they shouldn’t have the pay the fine.
“What those hearings have to look like is being litigated right now before the [Ohio] Supreme Court,” said Engel.
The state legislature tried to discourage cities from using speed cameras by making them report the amount of money they get from the tickets so it could be deducted from state payments to the city.
Local municipalities have challenged that bill and it’s working its way through the Ohio Supreme Court right now as well.
What you need to know
When drivers get a traditional ticket, it can:
- Go on their driving record
- Cause car insurance payment increases
- Be enforceable through a court order
Speed camera tickets:
- Don’t go on driving records
- Won’t affect insurance payments
- Are Civil Penalties, so they can be collected through bill collectors, potentially affecting a driver’s credit rating
“But, if the city does it right, if the municipality files the ticket in the court like a regular speeding ticket, you have to pay it like any other speeding ticket,” said Engel.
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