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In Depth: Speed cameras raising concerns over due process and public safety revenue

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Posted at 7:11 AM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 07:11:17-04

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.

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Ohio cities and the state are in a multi-year, back-and-forth battle over rules surrounding speed cameras on roadways.

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.

Due Process

“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.

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Some cameras are more mobile than others while others. Some are posted high on poles while others are hand-held and operated by officers on the ground.

“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.

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One big concern with tickets from speed cameras is a driver's ability to challenge the ticket and make sure it was issued correctly.

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.

Ticket Revenue

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.

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Signs nearby often warn drivers they are going to be passing traffic cameras.

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.

RELATED: Mayfield Village police seeking addition of photo-enforcement program

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