Change to speed camera laws coming to Ohio
Change to speed camera laws coming
New state law will cause more work for municipal courts
By SAMANTHA PHILLIPS
Municipal courts are preparing for adjustments to state legislation that will change the process of contested speed camera citation hearings.
There is local concern about added filing costs and a larger workload, and a provision that will prohibit township cameras on interstate highways.
When a new amendment takes effect July 3, Ohio’s municipal courts will hear all contested speed camera citation cases.
Currently, if a driver contests a speed camera citation, they can file an appeal and have an administrative hearing. Then, they can appeal that hearing’s outcome, and appear in municipal court to contest the ticket if they wish.
The new law will require municipal courts to maintain on file a certified copy of each speed camera ticket issued in their jurisdiction.
Niles Municipal Court has jurisdiction over Niles, Weathersfield and McDonald, but only Weathersfield uses speed cameras.
Sherry Rose, Niles Municipal Court clerk, said that court will need to make adjustments to its software to allow the staff to automate most of the process of filing the certified copies of the citations. Otherwise the staff would have to upload each one manually.
Girard Municipal Court has jurisdiction over Girard, Hubbard (city and township), Vienna and Liberty.
Girard and Liberty use speed cameras. Hubbard Township has a contract with Blue Line Solutions, but is not actively using the speed cameras.
Girard Judge Jeff Adler said he may have to hire another employee to handle filing copies of the tickets.
The legislation says the municipality must provide an advance deposit to the court to file the tickets.
Judge Adler suspects the legislation is an attempt to diminish speed camera use in communities because of how much it will cost to file the tickets.
He said he agrees with having cases heard in court rather than an administrative hearing, where a hearing officer who is appointed by the township or city conducts the appeal, but said there should be tweaks to prevent burdening court systems.
The law will also prohibit townships from using speed cameras on interstates. Some communities in the Valley, including Weathersfield and Liberty, use speed cameras on Interstate 80.
Cherry Poteet, the law director for both townships, said Weathersfield approved a resolution at Tuesday’s trustee meeting to comply with the new court procedure, and Liberty will likely approve a similar resolution at the Monday meeting.
The rule about interstates won’t require any resolutions or amendments, Poteet said.
“If it’s not challenged by law, they will continue to work the speed cameras — just not on the interstate. They can still work on state routes,” she said.
She added it’s hard to predict if the change from administrative hearings to municipal court hearings will present any difficulties for the two townships.
Steven Gerberry, chairman of the Weathersfield trustees, said the township is working with the Niles Judge Christopher Shaker to to iron out details with the new court procedure.
“As far as not being on Interstate 80, we’ve seen a reduction in speed and accidents on I-80 since the programs have been in place, so I hope there isn’t a reverse effect, but we have to deal with what we are handed from Columbus,” Gerberry said.
Arnie Clebone, chairman of the Liberty trustees, said he doesn’t believe it’s fair that townships will be prohibited from using the cameras on the interstates but cities aren’t.
“We want to keep our people as safe as anyone else... I don’t understand the reasoning, but we abide by the statutes of the Ohio Revised Code,” he said.