3/24/2015Ohio Judge Puts Freeze On Traffic Camera Limitation For Toledo
Ohio judge uses his personal support for photo enforcement as a reason to block law limiting automated ticketing in Toledo.
Lucas County, Ohio Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros stepped in at the last minute Sunday to prevent a new state law restricting speed cameras and red light cameras from taking effect in Toledo on Monday. The ruling has no effect outside Lucas County.
While Senate Bill 342 is often incorrectly described as a "ban" on automated ticketing machines, it actually authorizes photo ticketing as long as a police officer sits near the red light camera or speed camera as the machine does its work (view bill), increasing the cost of the program. Many other jurisdictions, including Washington, DC, use police officers to drive photo radar vans and sit with the equipment.
Toledo took the lead among Ohio cities in asking Judge Mandros, a former Lucas County prosecutor, to step in so that the city would not lose any revenue as a result of the law. In his order, Judge Mandros repeated Toledo's talking points nearly verbatim. He cited the decline in the number of automated speeding tickets issued at Anthony Wayne Trail as definitive proof that the cameras have been effective.
"Thus the presence of the camera totally altered that traffic pattern resulting in a much safer stretch of roadway today," Judge Mandros wrote.
Toledo claimed that it did not have the manpower to keep its red light cameras and speed cameras churning out citations at the same high rate if the law were to take effect. Judge Mandros also accepted that the city in good faith delayed filing its complaint 83 days after SB 342 was signed into law, leaving the state just nine days to marshal a defense of the legislation in court. As the basis of his decision, Judge Mandros insisted that SB 342 is not a general law because it would reduce Toledo's revenue stream.
"The statute is telling the municipality how to staff and allocate its personnel by mandating an officer to be present at each camera location," Judge Mandros wrote. "It would force the city... to incur extraordinary expenses... to perform a function that does nothing to benefit the citizenry, or the fixed camera locations would be rendered inoperable once SB 342 goes into effect thereby increasing the speeding and red light violations throughout the city."
Judge Mandros, a Democrat, is up for re-election in 2016. A copy of the ruling is available in a 1mb file at the source link below.