6/15/2010Ohio Legislature Considers Overturning Visual Speed Decision
Bipartisan group of Ohio state senators hope to fire a legislative message of disapproval at the supreme court over speed ruling.
A bipartisan effort to overturn a controversial Ohio Supreme Court ruling garnered the support of twelve of the state Senate's thirty-three members in just four days. Senators Tim Grendell (R-Chesterland) and Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) jointly introduced legislation on Thursday that would forbid police from issuing speeding tickets based solely on the officer's best speed guess.
The bill is designed to chastise the high court for its controversial June 3 ruling that held any police officer could be certified as an expert in visual speed estimation. Once certified, the word of such and officer would be taken as proof beyond a reasonable doubt of any speeding violation alleged. As a result, police could hang up their expensive radar and laser units as no longer needed (view decision). Driver's rights groups, including the National Motorists Association, blasted the ruling.
"The NMA has been flooded with email traffic expressing alarm and concern about the implications of courts giving judicial notice to what is, at best, a questionable method of determining how fast a vehicle is going," NMA Executive Director Gary Biller wrote.
Biller explained that there is no hard scientific evidence to back up the accuracy of the methods used by police and that the typical certification involves little more than a few hours of training. Members of the state Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle agreed that the legislation should be overturned.
"When Ohio motorists are pulled over for speeding there should be measurable proof rather than someone's estimate," Senate Minority Leader Cafaro said in a statement. "This legislation clarifies the Ohio Revised Code to require verifiable evidence to issue speeding tickets."
The proposed measure would take re-write the law so that it is clear that the legislature never intended tickets to be issued based on no more than an officer's best guess.
"No person shall be arrested, charged, or convicted of a violation of any provision of [the speeding statute] based on a peace officer's unaided visual estimation of the speed of a motor vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar," Senate Bill 280 states.
The legislation referral to a committee for further consideration. A copy of the bill is available in a 10k PDF file at the source link below.