6/24/2020Ohio Supreme Court Upholds Anti-Speed Camera Law
Unanimous Ohio Supreme Court ruling rebukes Toledo for resisting compliance with state law restricting speed cameras.
The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered Toledo to abide by a state law forbidding the use of administrative hearings in speed camera cases. All seven justices agreed that motorist Susan D. Magsig was right to challenge the ticket she received in the mail from Toledo, which has been running improper hearings that deprive vehicle owners of their right to due process. Under the law, such hearings can only be held by a municipal court judge.
"Toledo's argument runs counter to the plain language of the statute, which vests the municipal courts with exclusive jurisdiction, without limitations," Justice Judith French wrote for the court. "Toledo's preferred construction of the statute requires us to add words to the text, which we are not permitted to do."
In past rulings, a narrow high court majority has generally sided with cities and for-profit speed camera vendors on questions of photo enforcement. Because of this, Toledo's city council believed it could hold itself out as the leader of a resistance movement, defying the General Assembly's enactment of House Bill 62 (view law) to crack down on overuse of speed cameras. The measure withheld state funding to cities by the exact amount that each jurisdiction raised from automated ticketing and also granted "exclusive jurisdiction" to the municipal court system for photo ticket challenges. This provision was designed to take the right to decide guilt or innocence away from a city-appointed staff member and give it to a disinterested party. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the issue was "as plain as can be" in backing Magsig's challenge. The high court clarified that its support for speed cameras in the case Walker v. Toledo (view ruling) was based on the law, and that law had changed.
"Our holding in Walker was made in the context of a different statutory scheme and is no longer applicable," Justice French noted, in reference to the hearing provision.
Cities and photo radar vendors are currently challenging the constitutionality of the General Assembly's withholding of funding from speed camera cities. The justices made clear that they have not yet decided that question.
A copy of the ruling is available in a 150k PDF file at the source link below.