5/11/2017Ohio Lawmaker Challenges Expanded Speed Camera Use
Dayton, Ohio adopts ordinance to spread photo radar while House majority whip introduces bills to crack down on small town speed cameras.
Some Ohio municipalities decided this week to revive their photo ticketing programs, while a member of the state House leadership is moving to stop them. The Dayton city commission voted Wednesday to conform Dayton's automated ticketing program to statewide legal requirements. The new ordinance authorizes a for-profit private contractor to run red light cameras, handheld speed camera guns and portable photo radar trailers.
The growth of photo enforcement in Ohio briefly slowed in 2014 when the General Assembly passed legislation commonly misreported as a "ban" on red light cameras and speed cameras (view bill). What the law actually did was to require a local police officer to sit near the equipment to "witness" the automated violations. As state Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor put it, "Their only duty is to babysit the camera." Instead of pulling over the vehicle and admonishing the driver, a private company will send a $250 "civil penalty" to the car's registered owner weeks after the alleged violation.
Girard, Liberty, New Miami, Parma, Weathersfield and Youngstown are among the cities that have already restarted their contracts with private photo radar vendors. The most controversial, however, have been the tiny villages that are bringing in millions by setting up automated speed traps on high-volume highways that pass through village boundaries. Newburgh Heights, population 2109, sets up traps on Interstate 77, and Linndale, population 177, has them on Interstate 71.
State Representative Thomas F. Patton (R-Strongsville), the House majority whip, decided to strike back Tuesday by introducing four bills to cut off the small town revenue stream. House Bill 207 would ban towns that have no fire department or paramedic services from hiring private contractors to set up cameras. House Bill 208 would hit Linndale by banning towns with a population under 200 from using cameras. House Bill 209 limits the number of allowable tickets to double the town's population. Finally, House Bill 210 prohibits any municipality to collecting more than 30 percent of its annual revenue from automated tickets. Sweeping ban legislation has never made it through the legislature, so Patton is hoping the more targeted approach will have a better chance at making its way into law.
A copy of the proposed legislation is available in a 300k PDF file at the source link below.