Gov. John Kasich has signed a bill that will effectively kill the use of red light cameras in Ohio by requiring that a police officer be present to witness the violation — a requirement that is likely to make use of traffic cameras too costly for local governments.
Senate Bill 342 prohibits cities from using the controversial traffic cameras to automatically generate tickets for red light or speeding violations when an officer isn’t present. The bill passed in both houses of the General Assembly earlier this month.
Red light cameras have been in use in Ohio for several years. They’re typically mounted near intersections and snap photos when someone runs a red light. Some of the cameras also might track when a driver is speeding. When a camera catches a driver in a traffic violation, a ticket is sent to the vehicle’s registered owner.
There are 37 of the cameras in use in Columbus, and local TV station WBNS reports that the city has raked in more than $9 million in fines from tickets generated by the cameras since they were implemented in 2006.
Local governments argue that the cameras help improve safety at intersections where they’re used, but opponents say they’re nothing but a revenue generator — and that the method of having a ticket auto-generated by a camera was unconstitutional. In particular, lawsuits challenging the use of the cameras have argued that the use of the red light cameras violates a person’s constitutional right to due process under the law. However, courts in the state have been divided on the question and it remains to be definitively settled by the Ohio Supreme Court.
The new law requires cities to expend the resources to station a police officer at the intersections where red light cameras are in operation so that an officer can personally witness someone running a red light or speeding. The city of Columbus told WBNS that it couldn’t afford to comply with that requirement and instead would shut down the cameras.
A similar bill that would have banned used of the cameras except in school zones and with a police officer present passed in the House in June 2013 but stalled in the state Senate.
If you’ve received a ticket for a traffic violation, Luftman, Heck & Associates’ Columbus traffic lawyers can help. Call us today at (614) 500-3836. We offer a free consultation, and we’ll discuss your options for fighting your charge.