By Ellie Callinan, The Miami Student

Speed cameras, which are most often linked to an automatic ticketing system, have recently been popping up throughout Ohio. Many cities in Butler County have used these cameras in an attempt to improve the safety of main roads, but that practice has sparked controversy among Ohio citizens.

Since 2012, dozens of lawsuits have been filed against cities that use speed cameras to ticket and fine speeding drivers, claiming they are unconstitutional. Ticketed drivers could only contest their violations through an administrative hearing, yet the Ohio Constitution gives only the legislature the power for jurisdiction.

In December 2014, the Ohio Supreme Court reached a solution to this argument. The Supreme Court’s ruling gave the right to each city council to create their own distinctive administrative tribunals to rule on traffic cases.

The decision gives each city the right to properly practice effective adjudication for challenges on traffic violations issued by the speed cameras. Therefore, the ruling implies that using speed cameras to fine drivers is legal.

The village of New Miami has stopped the use of their speed cameras in accordance with an ordinance put in place by Butler County Judge Michael Sage.

Sage ruled the administrative process prevents people from their right of due process. This injunction was set after two people filed cases against New Miami after receiving speeding citations.

However, the Ohio Supreme Court decision does not correspond with Sage’s provisional ban on the speed cameras.

Wilson Weisenfelder, the attorney for New Miami, said he believes Sage’s decision is incorrect, and that Sage should reconsider his stance on the issue.

“Time will tell whether or not the new municipality will react to the Supreme Court decision — will they redraft it and comply with the new statute, or will they keep their existing statute,” Weisenfelder said.

The village of New Miami is just one city in Ohio that has experienced backlash from the community surrounding the cameras.

Supporters defend the speed cameras and maintain that they have worked to slow speeding drivers down. Critics claim they simply a money grab, as each
violation costs $95.

New Miami collects $57 for each ticket dispensed, and the revenue goes to the village’s general fund. In the past three years since they have been implemented, there have been over $1.8 million collected from speeding tickets.

New Miami Police Department Chief Dan Gilbert predicts that in time, the village will be allowed to use the speed cameras once again.

“I suspect that they will come back,” Gilbert said. “Even so, I believe there are going to be a lot of cities that will start to use the cameras.”

As long as Ohio cities can set up administrative tribunals to hear cases over traffic violations, the state of Ohio permits the use of speed cameras to curb
speedy drivers.