12/29/2016Ohio Extends Authority For Small Town Highway Speed Traps
Ohio allows small towns to set up speed traps on any highway as long as it is not an interstate.
The Ohio General Assembly earlier this month gave the green light for small townships to set up speed traps on highways that had previously been off-limits to ticketing. By a 30 to 1 vote in the state Senate and an 81 to 16 vote in the House, lawmakers deleted the existing prohibition so that the state's smallest jurisdictions may now issue tickets on any road that is not an interstate highway.
Ohio has 101 townships with police departments that would be newly empowered to set up speed traps if Governor John Kasich (R) signs the bill into law. The legislature's own analysis of the proposal reported that it would result in increased revenue to the state and local jurisdictions from "fines, court costs, and fees generated from traffic law violations and distributed between counties, municipalities, and townships." The local lobbyists who pressured legislators into passing the measure insisted they had other motives.
"Perkins Township sees a rise in motor vehicle traffic all year long," the township's police chief, Kenneth J. Klamar, wrote to Senate lawmakers. "This is largely due to tourism and a host of retail and dining establishments that line the US 250 corridor... For the last several years, we have received federal grant monies that allow us to have extra patrols for the enforcement of distracted driving and impaired driving... [but] Perkins Township officers are limited in the scope in which they can do their job... Granting this authority to township police officers in Ohio is not about revenue, it is about public safety."
The state Supreme Court last year affirmed Ohio v. Brown, a case in which appellate judges threw out the drunk driving conviction of a man who had initially been pulled over for a traffic violation by a township officer. Because that officer had no authority to conduct the stop, the conviction was overturned. Lobbyists seized on this case as a reason to overturn the speed trap ban to prevent drunk driving. In a last minute compromise, the existing law was narrowed so that it will now only keep townships from ticketing on interstate highways.
"The biggest point of contention in the committee process was the ability of township police departments to patrol interstate highways," the bill's sponsors, state Representatives Steve Hambley and Jeffery Rezabek explained. "We have removed the granting of this authority to our bill, appeasing the Buckeye Sheriff's association."
A copy of the bill is available in a 100k PDF file at the source link below.