Ohio Sup. Ct. Upholds Cities' Traffic-Camera Tickets, Appeals

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on December 19, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the use of traffic cameras by state municipalities as well as the administrative procedure for hearing appeals by those ticketed.

The ruling was split, with three of the court's seven justices dissenting, reports The Plain Dealer. And the decision comes as legislation requiring a police officer be present at every traffic camera was passed in the Ohio legislature last week. That bill would effectively end the use of the cameras in much of the state.

What led to the court's decision?

'Home Rule Authority' Allows for Administrative Hearings

The case involved a class action complaint brought against the City of Toledo and Redflex, a traffic camera company, by Kentucky resident Bradley Walker. After being cited for a traffic violation in 2009 and paying a $120 fine, Walker filed a lawsuit challenging use of the cameras and claiming the administrative process for adjudicating citations violated his constitutional rights.

In Toledo, drivers issued tickets generated by the traffic camera system are issued violations and asked to pay a fine or appeal the violations. But the appeals are not heard by a municipal court judge, but rather at an administrative hearing through the city's police department.

In its ruling, the court found that the enforcement of traffic laws is within a city's so-called home rule authority and it is therefore not unconstitutional for a city to establish its own administrative procedures for enforcing traffic laws.

Court Cases Challenging Traffic Camera Tickets

The Ohio case is the latest in a string of cases challenging the constitutionality of traffic camera systems and the admissibility of traffic camera evidence in court. There have also been lawsuits alleging that use of the cameras resulted in drivers being cited for violations they never committed; a class action lawsuit in New Jersey in 2013 against 18 municipalities alleging that camera systems issued tickets to drivers erroneously was settled for $4.2 million.

The bill requiring the presence of police officers at all traffic cameras is awaiting the signature of Ohio governor John Kasich. The legislation will become effective 90 days after being signed into law.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard