12/12/2014Ohio General Assembly Passes Illusory Speed Camera Ban
Ohio House approves state Senate bill designed to preserve the use of speed cameras.
The Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation that would outlaw red light cameras and speed cameras, but this legislation will not be headed to Governor John Kasich's desk for his signature. Instead, the House voted 55 to 35 on Thursday to approve the Senate-passed "ban" on cameras that does not actually do anything to prevent camera use and contains many provisions that benefit the automated ticketing industry.
The bill requires a police officer to be "present at the location" of a speed camera or red light camera for a ticket to be generated. The officer does not need to witness the alleged offense, he only needs to be parked nearby, and he is free to perform other tasks. This is a common way speed cameras are deployed in other states and countries.
The proposal sets up a detailed set of rules for the continuation of red light camera and speed camera usage. For example, under the proposal, the owner of a vehicle is automatically held liable for an infraction even if he can prove he was not driving at the time of the offense. The bill will not release the owner from liability unless someone else pays the fine.
"In order to meet the evidentiary burden imposed under... this section, the registered owner or person or entity named in the ticket shall provide to the hearing officer the identity of the designated party, that person's name and current address, and any other evidence that the hearing officer determines to be pertinent," Senate Bill 342 states.
The bill goes further and approves the legal tribunal set up by cities like Toledo to adjudicate photo ticketing fines. This would rescue these cities from the legal jeopardy they now face from a forthcoming state Supreme Court decision.
The state Senate will have to vote once more on an amendment ordering the state department of public safety to issue an annual report detailing the number of tickets handed out for using a cell phone or texting behind the wheel before the bill is sent to the governor for his signature.
While the legislature is content to allow photo ticketing to continue, the residents of Ashtabula, Cincinnati, Cleveland,Chillicothe, Heath, Garfield Heights, Maple Heights South Euclid and Steubenville took matters into their own hands and forced the removal of automated ticketing machines through ballot initiatives.
A copy of the House-passed version of Senate Bill 342 is available in a PDF file at the source link below.