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12/11/2008Third Ohio City Proposes Camera Ban
Residents in Chillicothe, Ohio formally circulate an initiative petition designed to ban photo ticketing in the city.
In the wake of an Ohio supreme court decision favoring the use of speed cameras and red light cameras, residents of Chillicothe are looking to become the third community to take matters into their own hands. The group Citizens Against Photo Enforcement announced the filing of a formal initiative petition this week that would offer a vote in November on whether to ban photo ticketing completely.
The initiative's sponsors believe they can gather the 800 signatures required to put the question to voters in the city of 22,000. An informal online petition already gathered the support of 3416 area residents, which represents nearly one out of every five registered voters. If successful, the measure would repeal the city ordinance authorizing cameras and prohibit any similar ordinances from being adopted in the future. The measure also bans contracting out photo ticketing services to a private company and ensures anyone charged with a civil or administrative traffic fine has the full protection of due process under "state, federal, or common law as may apply."
According to petition proponents, Chillicothe's red light cameras have been placed at intersections with just 3.0 seconds of yellow warning time. Under a 2008 state law, it is illegal for any camera-equipped intersection to have a yellow time duration of less than 4.0 seconds (Ohio Code Section 4511.094). Proponents are also disturbed by the speed cameras that have been ticketing at a rate of at least 300 citations per day with 70 percent of the profit generated sent to Redflex Traffic Systems in Australia.
Last month a bipartisan coalition led a successful initiative effort banning cameras 100 miles west in Cincinnati. In 2006, three out of every four voters in Steubenville chose to kick out speed cameras after the devices had issued $600,000 in citations. Over the past twelve years, voters in Anchorage, Alaska; Peoria, Arizona and Batavia, Illinois have also banned cameras.
Text of initiative:
AN ORDINANCE RESTRICTING USE OF MOBILE SPEED ENFORCEMENT VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC LAW PHOTO-MONITORING DEVICES AND REPEALING ORDINANCE NUMBER 151-07 AND CHAPTER 315 OF THE REVISED ORDINANCES OF CHILLICOTHE, OHIO
BE IT ORDAINED by the electors of the City of Chillicothe, as follows:
Section 1: The City of Chillicothe, including its various boards, agencies and departments, shall not use any traffic law photo-monitoring device or mobile speed enforcement vehicle for the enforcement of a qualified traffic law violation, unless a law enforcement officer is present at the location of the device or vehicle and personally issues the ticket to the alleged violator at the time and location of the violation.
Section 2: Definitions. As used in this Ordinance:
a. "Law enforcement officer" means any law enforcement officer employed by the City of Chillicothe or by Ross County.
b. "Qualified traffic law violation" means a violation of any of the following: (1) any state or local law relating to compliance with a traffic control signal or a railroad crossing sign or signal; or (2) any state or local law limiting the speed of a motor vehicle.
c. "Ticket" means any traffic ticket, citation, summons, or other notice of liability, whether civil, criminal, or administrative, issued in response to an alleged qualified traffic law violation detected by a traffic law photo-monitoring device.
d. "Traffic law photo-monitoring device" means any electronic, photographic, video, radar, laser or digital system used to produce evidence of an alleged traffic violation and/or the identity of the operator of any motor vehicle.
e. "Mobile speed enforcement vehicle" means any vehicle that uses any electronic, photographic, video, radar, laser or digital system to produce evidence of the speed of motor vehicles or the identity of the operator of any motor vehicle.
Section 3: Chillicothe Ordinance Number 151-07, Chapter 315 of Revised Ordinances of Chillicothe, Ohio, and any ordinance implementing either that may be enacted prior to the passage of this Ordinance, are hereby repealed, void, and of no effect. The City shall not hereafter enact or enforce any ordinance that conflicts with this Ordinance. In the event that any provision of this Ordinance is found to be unconstitutional or impermissibly in conflict with state or federal law, only such provision found to be unconstitutional or impermissible will be stricken, and the remainder of this Ordinance will remain in full force and effect.
Section 4: The City shall not be a party to any contract for the installation of any traffic law photo-monitoring device or mobile speed enforcement vehicle if payment to the vendor or installer is contingent on the number of tickets issued or fees collected. Any such contract is hereby declared to be void for illegality.
Section 5: In any civil proceeding for the enforcement of any traffic law violation, the alleged violator is entitled to the benefits of the procedures set forth in the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, in Title 23 of the Ohio Revised Code, and in the Ohio Rules of Evidence.
Section 6: In any administrative proceeding for the enforcement of any traffic law violation, the alleged violator is entitled to the benefits of the procedures set forth in Title 119 of the Ohio Revised Code and in the Ohio Rules of Evidence.
Section 7: Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 4 and 5, alleged traffic violators in any civil or administrative traffic proceeding are also entitled to the benefits of such other sections of state, federal, or common law as may apply.