5/7/2019Ohio Court Sides With City Over Traffic Camera Rules
Ohio Court of Appeals strikes down remaining provisions of a 2015 law imposing minor limitations on red light and speed cameras.
The city of Toledo is so desperate to avoid limitations on the way it uses red light cameras and speed cameras that it asked a court to bar the Ohio attorney general from enforcing state law. On Friday, the Ohio Court of Appeals largely sided with the city and its desire to protect the program expected to generate $7.4 million in net profit this year.
The General Assembly has been so upset with the way cities have used automated ticketing machines that it adopted a law that takes effect on July 3 withholding at least $2.3 million in state aid from Toledo over its use of the devices. The city cannot challenge this new law until the measure takes effect, so the city's attorneys are continuing the legal fight against the 2015 version of the law (view law) that imposed a number of minor conditions on camera use, such as a requirement that engineering studies be conducted before cameras could be used. The Ohio Supreme Court struck down several of these conditions in 2017 (view ruling). The high court sent the case back to the trial court level to weigh the propriety of a handful of the remaining speed camera limitations that were not directly addressed in the decision.
Ohio's constitution gives cities home rule authority which allows them to make their own rules as long as those rules are not in conflict with "general laws" enacted by the General Assembly. The three-judge panel on Friday struck down a provision preventing Toledo and other cities from issuing both a criminal ticket and a photo ticket for the exact same offense.
"We find this remaining language limits appellee's municipal power, and that it serves no statewide purpose aside from loosely mandating policy which may or may not be enforced uniformly," Judge Arlene Singer wrote for the appellate court. "Specifically, the mandatory may only' language severely limits the way in which the municipality can issue a ticket. We are not persuaded by appellants' stated purpose or concerns regarding uniformity of traffic camera law."
The appellate panel, following the high court, also presumed that a regulation ensuring photo tickets "are processed and challenged under uniform, clear standards and contesting procedures" cannot serve "an overriding statewide interest." The lone provision left standing after the ruling gave ticket recipients a chance to appeal the decision of a city-run administrative traffic camera hearing to the municipal court in a brand new hearing.
A copy of the ruling is available in a 100k PDF file at the source link below.