6/23/2006Cities to Install Illegal Photo Enforcement Programs
City councils in Steubenville, Ohio and Southgate, Michigan are both looking to generate automated traffic tickets even though the systems are not legal.
City councils in Steubenville, Ohio and Southgate, Michigan are both looking to generate automated traffic tickets even though the systems violate state law.
Just one week after thousands of refund notices went out to every Steubenville resident who received a speed camera ticket, the city council voted 6-1 to reword its photo radar ordinance to restart the ticketing program by July 21. In March, Jefferson County Court of Common Pleas Judge David E. Henderson had declared the city's speed camera ordinance in violation of Ohio law. Steubenville has rewritten the ordinance in such a way as to evade some of Henderson's concerns.
The Detroit News reports that Southgate is planning to become the first Michigan city to use automated ticketing machines. Preparations are already being made to install the devices at two intersections even though Michigan law requires that police officers "observe" offenses or produce evidence from eyewitnesses in, for example, an accident report. Moreover, the Michigan Code requires that city ordinances have penalties at least equal to those for the same offense set out in state law. Southgate's proposed ordinance, however, would not give points for camera tickets -- even though it is required by state law.
"It's an issue of 'can we do it,' not 'should we do it,'" former Southgate Chief of Police Larry Hall told the Detroit News. "The intersections they chose are high-volume, not high-crash. I was in the traffic services section for years, and I can tell you that very few accidents at those intersections are caused by running red lights. They are mostly fender benders or from improper turns."
Other cities such as Gulf Breeze, Florida have installed red light cameras despite warnings from the state attorney general that the program violated the law.