8/16/2007Ohio Supreme Court Rules Safe Driving Can Be Ticketed
Ohio Supreme Court rules that police do not need to establish a speed as unsafe before writing a speeding ticket.
Police may issue traffic citations without proving that the ticketed motorist was driving unsafely or at an unreasonable speed, according to an Ohio Supreme Court ruling issued last week. A unanimous court found that police officers only need to show a motorist violated a numeric speed limit for a citation to be valid.
The case began when Spencer, Ohio resident Gary Kieffaber was stopped on February 13, 2005 in the notorious speed trap town of Belleville for allegedly driving 41 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. According to the testimony of the Belleville officer, the road was clear and dry with good weather at the time.
Representing himself in court, Kieffaber challenged the $100 ticket because the police officer failed to check the box on the citation denoting that the speed was "unsafe for conditions." In essence, Kieffaber argued that the burden of proof was on the state to show his speed was unsafe, not upon him to prove his own innocence by producing evidence to the contrary. A lower court judge and an appeals court disagreed, creating a conflict with a 2000 ruling that had supported Kieffaber's reasoning. The state supreme court resolved the dispute by asserting that it was up to Kieffaber to prove his own innocence.
"Kieffaber failed to produce sufficient evidence to rebut and overcome the village's prima facie case," Justice Robert R. Cupp wrote for the court. "In view of the foregoing, we hold that a citation for speeding that contains notice of the prima facie offense and the basic facts supporting that charge includes all the necessary elements of the offense even if the citation does not also allege that the speed is unreasonable for the existing conditions."
The full text of the ruling is available in a 37k PDF file at the source link below.