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4/24/2006
Cleveland, Ohio to Use Cameras to Seize Cars
Cleveland, Ohio plans to seize cars over unpaid parking tickets or photo enforcement citations.

Cleveland City CouncilCleveland, Ohio is expanding its lucrative red light camera and speed camera program to include the confiscation of cars. The city council is considering an "emergency" ordinance to make it a crime to own a vehicle that "displays license plates that are associated with four or more of any combination of unpaid parking infraction judgments and/or notices of liability for... or red light or speeding violations." The guilt or innocence of the owner to the original charge is irrelevant to the city.

The proposed ordinance also blocks the renewal of car registrations for anyone the city claims has not paid all fines. It also allows the city to contract with private bounty hunters to collect on unpaid tickets. The cash-strapped city is looking to these private contractors to collect millions in outstanding fines.

Under the proposed ordinance, seized vehicles will only be released if the owner admits guilt and pays towing, storage, impound and administrative fees on top of cost of the original tickets. An owner who, for example, never received the original tickets in the mail and wishes to maintain his innocence must still pay the original tickets before his car is returned. Cleveland Police have already admitted that they do not review all photo enforcement tickets for accuracy before the private vendor ACS issues them. The city plans to make $4 million a year from camera tickets.

Last August, a judge in Albuquerque, New Mexico struck down a similar camera seizure ordinance as unconstitutional.

Article Excerpt:
FIRST READING EMERGENCY ORDINANCES REFERRED
Ord. No. 645-06.
By Council Members Conwell, Johnson, Cleveland and Sweeney (by departmental request).
An emergency ordinance to supplement the Codified Ordinances of Cleveland, Ohio, 1976, by enacting
new Section 405.023, relating to the issuance of continuous violation tickets to continuous parking infraction
offenders, and to amend Sections 405.02, 443.19, 459.01, 459.03, 459.05, 459.06, 459.08, and 459.11, as
enacted and amended by various ordinances, to authorize the impoundment of vehicles when there are four or more parking infraction judgments, to redefine "parking infraction" and "law enforcement officer", to require the payment of all outstanding fines before releasing a vehicle, and to make other amendments to enhance parking enforcement, for the Clerk of the Cleveland Municipal Court.

Whereas, this ordinance constitutes an emergency measure providing for the usual daily operation of a municipal department; now, therefore, Be it ordained by the Council of the City of Cleveland:
...
Section 405.02 Impounding of
Vehicles
Police officers are authorized toprovide for the removal of a vehicleunder the following circumstances:
(a) When any vehicle is left unattended upon any street, alley or bridge and constitutes an unreasonable hazard or obstruction to the normal movement of traffic or unreasonably interferes with street cleaning or snow removal operations, or when any vehicle is left on any street or public property for more than seventy-two hours.

(b) (1) Upon complaint of any person adversely affected, when any motor vehicle, other than an abandoned junk motor vehicle as defined in Section 4513.63 of the Revised Code, has been left on private residential or agricultural property as defined in Section 4513.60 of the Revised Code for more than four hours without the permission of the person having the right to the possession of the property. (RC 4513.60(A)(1))

(2) When any motor vehicle, other than an abandoned junk motor vehicle as defined in Section 4513.63 of the Revised Code, has been left on a public street or other property open to the public for the purposes of vehicular travel, or upon or within the right-of-way of any road or highway, for forty-eight hours or longer without notification to the Chief of Police of the reasons for
leaving the motor vehicle in such place. (RC 4513.61)

(3) When any motor vehicle is an abandoned junk motor vehicle as defined in Section 4513.63 of the Revised Code and removal is authorized by that Section. (RC 4513.63)

(4) When any junk motor vehicle as defined in Section 4513.65 of the Revised Code has not been either covered by being housed in a garage or other suitable structure, or removed from the property, within ten days of the date of receipt of a notice meeting the requirements of division (b) of Section 451.27 by the person having the right to possession of the property on which the junk motor vehicle is left. (RC 4513.65)

(c) When any vehicle has been stolen or operated without the consent of the owner.

(d) When any vehicle is parked on any street or other public property and displays illegal plates or fails to display the current lawfully required license plates.

(e) When any vehicle has been used in or connected with the commission of procuring, soliciting, prostitution, soliciting drug sales in violation of Section 607.20, or any felony.

(f) When any vehicle has been damaged or wrecked so as to be inoperable or violates equipment provisions of this Traffic Code,
whereby its continued operation would constitute a condition hazardous to life, limb or property.

(g) When any vehicle is left unattended due to the removal of an ill, injured or arrested operator.

(h) When any vehicle has been operated by any person who failed to stop in case of accident or collision.

(i) When any vehicle has been operated by any person who is driving without a lawful license or while his license has been suspended or revoked.

(j) When any vehicle is found standing or parked in violation of the provisions of Section 451.04, 451.05, 451.06, 451.11, 451.13, 453.01, 453.02, 455.05, 455.06 or 455.07 of these Codified Ordinances and such vehicle has four or more of any combination of:
(1) unpaid parking infraction judgments, and/or
(2) notices of liability under Section 413.031 for red light or speeding violations, provided that the notices of liability under Section 413.031 are not on appeal, and/or
(3) previously issued outstanding criminal citations or notices of violation of any of the provisions of the Traffic Code.


(k) When any vehicle constitutes an unreasonable hazard to persons or property at the scene of a fire, accident, disaster, riot or emergency of any kind.

(l) When any vehicle is found standing or parked in violation of the provisions of Sections 451.03, 451.041, 451.08 through 451.10, 451.12, 451.15 through 451.25, division (e) or division (f) of Section 451.33, or division (a) of Section 461.15.

(m) When any vehicle is ordered immobilized pursuant to Chapters 4503., 4507. or 4511 of the Revised Code.

(n) When any vehicle that is subject to an order of immobilization and impoundment under Section 4503.233 of the Revised Code is found being operated on any street or highway.

(o) When any vehicle:
(1) displays license plates that are associated with four or more of any combination of unpaid parking
infraction judgments and/or notices of liability under Section 413.031 for red light or speeding violations, provided that the notices of liability under Section 413.031 are not on appeal, and
(2) the vehicle is found standing or parked on any street or highway in the Central Business District,
without regard to whether any parking infraction is being committed at the time. As used in this division,
"Central Business District" has the same meaning as in Section 325.12 of the Codified Ordinances.


443.19 Renewal of Drivers' Licenses
All renewals of drivers' licenses shall be in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the Commissioner of Assessments and
Licenses.

No driver's license shall be renewed under this chapter unless the applicant has first paid all parking infraction judgments and default judgments and all notices of liability under Section 413.031 for red light or speeding violations, provided that the notices of liability under Section 413.031 are not on appeal, that are owed by applicant.
...
Section 459.08 Release of Impounded
Vehicles
(a) Any vehicle which has been impounded pursuant to divisions (j) or (l) of Section 405.02 of these codified ordinances shall be released to the owner or other person lawfully entitled to possession upon the occurrence of one of the following:

(1) If an answer to the summons and complaint is made and the answer admits the commission of the infraction, payment of the fines and penalties prescribed by Sections 459.11, 459.05, and 459.06 hereof, towing, storage, and impound fees, and
administrative fees and costs shall be made with respect to the infraction for which the vehicle was impounded.
(2) If an answer to the summons and complaint is made and the answer admits with explanation the commission of the infraction, payment shall be made or a bond shall be posted or cash shall be deposited equal in amount to the payment
specified in division (a)(1) of this section.
(3) If an answer to the summons and complaint is made and the answer denies the commission of the infraction, a bond shall be posted or cash shall be deposited equal in amount to the payment specified in division (a)(1) of this section.
(4) If no answer to the summons and complaint is made a bond shall be posted or cash shall be deposited equal in amount to the payment specified in division (a)(1) of this section, plus all potential additional penalties under Sections 459.05 and
459.06.

(b) No vehicle shall be released pursuant to this section unless the person claiming ownership or lawful possession pays:
(1) All unpaid parking infraction judgments and default judgments and all unpaid notices of liability under Section 413.031 for red light or speeding violations, provided that the notices of liability under Section 413.031 are not on appeal, that are owed by the person claiming the vehicle; and
(2) All unpaid judgments or default judgments for parking infraction offenses and all unpaid notices of liability under Section 413.031 for red light or speeding violations, provided that the notices of liability under Section 413.031 are not on appeal, that were committed with any vehicle that had the same license plate number as the vehicle being claimed.

(c) No vehicle shall be released pursuant to this section unless the person claiming ownership or lawful possession produces proof of identity and ownership

(d) Any bond posted or cash deposited for the release of a vehicle under this section shall not exceed one thousand dollars
($1,000.00).



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