Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Group plans charter amendment to outlaw Toledo's red light/speed cameras

Chris Finney, an attorney with COAST (Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes) from Cincinnati, announced on Eye On Toledo last night that they will be bringing their red light/speed camera opposition to Toledo.

You can listen to the podcast of the interview, including the update on their lawsuit against the City of Toledo to force the city to open camera appeal hearings to the public.

Finney said the first meeting on the charter amendment will be Monday, January 12, 2009 at 6:30 p.m., though they are still making the final arrangements for a location.

In November, Cincinnati approved a similar charter amendment:

Be it resolved by the people of the City of Cincinnati that a new Article XIV of the Charter is hereby added as follows:

Section 1. The City, including its various Boards, agencies and departments, shall not use any traffic law photo-monitoring device for the enforcement of a qualified traffic law violation, unless a law enforcement officer is present at the location of the device and personally issues the ticket to the alleged violator at the time and location of the violation.

Section 2. Definitions.
As used in this Article XIV:
a) Law enforcement officer" means any law enforcement officer employed by the City or any other political jurisdiction in Ohio, including the State. The City may from time to time and in its discretion, by ordinance or resolution, designate which City employees are, “law enforcement officers” for purposes of this Article XIV.
b) "Qualified law traffic violation" means a violation of any of the following:
(1) any state or local law relating to complying with a traffic control signal or a railroad crossing sign or signal; or
(2) any state or local law limiting the speed of a motor vehicle.
c) "Ticket" means any traffic ticket, citation, summons, or other notice of liability (whether civil or criminal) issued in response to an alleged qualified traffic law violation detected by a traffic law photo-monitoring device.
d) "Traffic law photo-monitoring device" means an electronic system consisting of a photographic, video, or electronic camera and a means of sensing the presence of a motor vehicle that automatically produces photographs, videotape, or digital images of the vehicle, its license plate or its operator.

Section 3. Any ordinance enacted prior to the passage of this Amendment that contravenes any of the foregoing is void. After the enactment of this Amendment, the City shall not enact or enforce any ordinance that contravenes any of the foregoing. In the event that any provision of this Article XIV is found to be unconstitutional or impermissibly in conflict with state or federal law, only such provision found to be unconstitutional or impermissible will be stricken, and the remainder of this Article XIV will remain in full force and effect.

Their amendment did not prohibit the use of the cameras, but did require that law enforcement officers issue a traditional ticket instead of relying upon a civil violation processed by a third party.

I'll keep you posted on updates, including the location when it is determined.

(Cross posted to Eye On Toledo blog)


Unknown said...

I'd like to think that most people care enough about their Constitutional rights to become part of this movement!

Studies have shown that the red light cameras are NOT placed for "safety reasons". Increasing yellow times or having 'all-red' intersections have proven to be more effective in preventing traffic collisions.

These are nothing more than 'cash cows' for municipalities.

Unknown said...

What I don't understand is that as far as I've been able to read online, is that the Ohio General Assembly voted (and passed) to amend the language of the regulations set forth governing the use of speed/redlight cams to reflect a very similar language. It is my understanding that in matters where state and municipal statues conflict, the state law rules. The OGA made these amendments in 05 and in 06, so how come the city is still allowed to tag speeders without an officer present? Is this just a case where nobody will fight for it? or am I missing a clause that lets them get away with it?

Maggie said...

Most cities have home-rule authority which gives them the ability to institute their own laws, as you say.

As far as I understand, several courts have ruled that such cities can create a civil violation from the cameras so long as they don't do both civil and criminal penalties at the same time.

I wouldn't have so much difficulty with these cameras if they didn't remove all the due process rights as part of the method for enforcement and collection of the fines...

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