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Will new laws ban red-light camera tickets?

Columbus traffic lawyer

Red-light fines might become a thing of the past after November vote.

Thousands of motorists are ticketed in Ohio each year without ever being pulled over. Since 2006, Columbus alone has cited more than 265,000 drivers with red-light cameras—racking up $8.5 million in fines and reducing crashes at monitored intersections by almost 75 percent, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

In June, Ohio Supreme Court justices heard arguments on a Toledo appeals-court ruling that administrative hearings on the tickets illegally deprive municipal courts of their authority to handle moving-traffic violations.

Red light camera

And although most drivers aren’t thrilled with a surprise ticket in the mail, the case is not to determine whether these tickets are legal, as an Akron court agreed to that in 2008.

However, unlike parking violations, Ohio law does not give cities the power to determine guilt or innocence in appeal hearings of traffic laws. According to the lower courts, that means the current processes take away motorists’ due process.

“They’ve pre-empted the judge’s ability to determine whether the ordinance is violated,” argued Andrew Mayle, the Fremont lawyer who won the court ruling in Toledo and another in Cleveland. “They’ve taken the judge’s power and given it to the hearing officers” who rule on motorist appeals of red-light and speed-camera tickets.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice William M. O’Neill said he believes it’s a “legal fantasy” that traffic tickets from red-light cameras are a civil matter and not a criminal one. How the court’s six other justices position themselves on that issue will determine how photo-enforcement citations are handled here in Columbus and throughout Ohio.

Would new laws ban red-light cameras?

Columbus traffic lawyer

Courtesy of Getty Images

The outcome of the vote in November could effectively ban traffic cameras in Ohio. When the Ohio General Assembly reconvenes after the November elections, lawmakers said they’ll likely pass a bill that would require an officer to be on the scene to issue tickets for speeding or running a red light. Such a measure would require police departments to spend millions of dollars they don’t have to staff the cameras.

In addition, if the legislature passes, cities could operate their red-light and speed cameras, but the cases would have to be filed in municipal courts and the cities would receive a lesser share of the fines.

Traffic violation? Call a Columbus criminal defense attorney.

If you’re facing traffic violation charges, call an experienced Ohio criminal defense attorney at Yavitch & Palmer at 614-224-6142 to arrange an appointment or contact the firm online. We tackle each case on a personal level to ensure that you get the attention you deserve.

Learn about Stephen Palmer‘s 19 years of Columbus criminal defense work, and contact Yavitch & Palmer online today, or call 614-224-6142.

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