7/7/2006Judges Rules Girard, Ohio Speed Cameras Illegal
Girard, Ohio speed cameras shut down after judges finds program illegal. Refunds to 1500 ticket recipients possible.
A judge yesterday ordered the city of Girard, Ohio to shut down its speed camera program as the city became the second in the state to lose a major class action suit over automated ticketing. Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge John M. Stuard ruled that Girard illegally changed traffic violations from the criminal code over to a civil infraction in order to avoid restrictions in state law.
"The Legislature has authorized civil, noncriminal penalties to be set by municipalities for parking tickets. There has been no legislative action by the state to allow the extension of this concept to speeding," Stuard wrote.
"This will be a foundation for other people to attack these cameras, at least in Ohio," Girard Councilman Daniel Moadus Jr. told the Warren Tribune-Chronicle newspaper. Moadus filed the lawsuit last August. Another judge had stuck down Steubenville's camera program on similar grounds in March.
In January, the unpopular speed camera was stolen and the city considered dumping the program, but decided to keep it only after the German camera vendor Traffipax threatened to stick the city with legal bills from the court challenge. The company collects $25 from each $85 citation. As a result of today's ruling, some 1500 car owners who were ticketed by the machine but have not paid the fine could see a refund. Further rulings on a refund are expected.