Ruling: Traffic Camera System Unconstitutional

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CLEVELAND-- Judges with the 8th District Court of Appeals in Cleveland have ruled that the city's red light and speeding camera system is unconstitutional.

The ruling comes from a case filed by a driver from Columbus who was issued a citation in 2007, paid his fine, then later challenged the city's ordinance.

His attorney claimed with the way the ordinance is written anyone who gets a citation from a red light or speed enforcement camera has to go to a hearing officer to argue their case, which violates the state constitution.

Attorney Andrew Mayle argued Ohio's constitution gives everyone who violates a local ordinance the opportunity to take their case to municipal court.

"The traffic camera ordinance is an ordinance in Cleveland but the council has said we're not going to let you have your day in the Cleveland Municipal Court," Mayle told FOX 8, adding, "That's unconstitutional because it's not up to city council to decide whether people get their day in court or not, so that's what makes it unconstitutional; it's under the Ohio constitution."

In its opinion, the appeals court wrote "...the power to adjudicate civil violations of moving traffic laws lies solely in municipal court."

Mayle believes that renders any ticket issued because of a camera violation invalid.

He also believes the city would have difficulty prosecuting every camera violation if they were challenged under the law.

"They would not be able to prove their case under normal court rules because first of all it would be somewhat impractical for them to bring someone to testify that 'yes on this date we calibrated this properly' and so forth and to say 'yes this is the vehicle we captured on camera,'" said Mayle.

"They would need a human being to do all that and then the defendant would get to cross examine that person. The defendant would get some discovery, maybe take depositions, get records on the calibraton and it just would not work. Cleveland's program could not go forward under those conditions; I just do not think so," said Mayle.

The City of Cleveland issued a statement on Friday saying: "The Ohio Supreme Court has previously ruled that Cleveland's automated enforcement program is constitutional.

Given Thursday's 8th District Court of Appeals opinion that the portion of the city's ordinance relating to the appeals process is unconstitutional, the City is evaluating its options and is in the process of determining next steps.

Appeals are suspended and not being heard at this time while the City continues its review.

Citizens who have questions surrounding paying violations they received through the traffic camera enforcement program should consult their personal attorney."

Read more on traffic cameras.

20 comments

  • Susan

    I received three tickets because they sent them 30 days after the violation so I didn’t even know it was a 25 not 35 zone (I was ticketed for going 36 and 37 miles per hour in what I thought was a 35)! I want my $309 dolkars back! Where can I file?

    • Vicki

      Same situation for me, 2 tickets, no sign that it was 25, thought it was 35 and I just started working in Cleveland, they lost more revenue because I never stay in Cleveland to dine, or bring my friends down. I believe refunds are in order – every night I have to wait for pedestrians jay walking – they need to ticket them to make streets safer

    • Mike

      No…Susan… You received three tickets because you are speeding. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Your efforts should be spent asking the municipality to more clearly post the speed limit so more people don’t go through what you did and to make the area more safe for children and pedestrians. I think we should all look at the big picture instead of playing the victim and crying for some false injustice to be corrected.

    • John

      It’s not uncommon for cities to set the speed limit low and Cleveland area has a long history of this sort of abuse. It’s also likely that you may not have been speeding since Ohio is a presumed speed limit state. Check if there was any traffic studies done that would prove that the speed limit was set to low for the conditions. You might also want to contact the attorney who filed this suit to find out more.

      Your duty is to drive safely. The law presumes that the speed limit is the high limit for safe driving, but if you can prove that you were driving safely at a higher speed then you didn’t break the law. (Cleveland vs. Keah. Ohio Supreme court & Ohio law) Conversely, if the state can prove the posted speed limit is dangerous for the prevailing conditions then you could drive under the speed limit and still be speeding no matter how slowly you are going. Cleveland’s ignorance of the law does not excuse the cities shady actions.

  • Evelyn Southerland

    I just paid 3 different tickets due to those traffic cameras. How do I get my money back? If these are unconstitutional then they are breaking the law by accepting the fees paid.

    • Mike

      Dearest Evelyn… You didn’t get three tickets because of “those cameras”. You got three tickets because you are speeding. I know the rest of us who get speeding tickets deserve them because we are speeding but we all know you are different and deserve preferential treatment. I think the first thing you should do is hire your constitutional attorney for thousands of dollars to get your few hundred dollars back. Or better yet, stop speeding and you will never have to worry about “those cameras” and the rest of us will be a little safer on the road. Hey you what? Your insurance rates will decrease too as your tickets fall off your driving record! You can pay yourself back through changing your own behavior instead of screaming for someone else to do it for you.

      • John

        Someone may or may not deserve a speeding ticket. The Ohio Supreme court has long recognized that Ohio law actually saws your duty is to drive safely. The speed limit signs are often posted too low for the conditions to help officer’s make quota, should I say goal or guideline? Check out Cleveland v. Keah and learn the truth about Ohio law.

  • adriana

    when do I get my money back!? I got into an accident and had my car towed and the city wouldn’t let me get my car out unless I paid the tickets that I wasn’t responsible for driving my car at the time.. I sent in a letter requesting maintenance on the cameras and the payment center and the clerk of courts disregarded my letter and basically called the city to get a quick ruling on these tickets and found me guilty claiming they didn’t have to give me anything and I was denied a hearing which to my understanding is illegal and was not an option per what the ticket says your options are that being to have them heard. they also sent it a month after the date. the city is intrusive and these cameras are unconstitutional. I’m thinking about getting a lawyer.

    • Mike

      Wow Adriana! You my dear are what’s at the heart of what’s wrong with America. You get tickets for speeding, choose not to pay for them, and then scream when u are penalized for it. You even go to the extreme of arrogantly demanding that the cameras are faulty. You have failed your parents miserably or they failed you. It’s tough to tell. The cameras are not unconstitutional. Due process is not being given and that is unconstitutional. Like I’ve told all the other “victims” here, look within yourself. Look at what got you the tickets in the first place. Take responsibility for your behavior and then change it!!! Stop being part of the scores of people who demand preferential treatment, who blame everyone and everything else for the predicaments they create. The city is only intrusive when u are breaking the law, the cameras are only unconstitutional when u get caught. I’ve been caught by those cameras as well when I was speeding. You know what I did? I paid my ticket as I should, cursed my stupidity, and then I slowed down! So go hire your attorney and spend hundreds of dollars on a case with no merit. Or, take responsibility for what you have done and do something about it. That will cost you nothing.

      • John

        Adriana, I suggest you talk to the attorney who proved these tickets are indeed unconstitutional.

        They tried to treat speeding tickets like parking tickets and got their hands caught in the cookie jar. The reason they allow the car to be ticketed when it is parked is that the vehicle is unattended. It’s just a pure money grab to set these cameras up in a way that doesn’t show the driver. Even third world countries get it right, but Cleveland is choosing to let the camera companies go for maximum profit instead of caring about what the Ohio Constitution says.

  • william cunningham

    And that does not take into the consideration the possibility of PHOTOSHOPING. because after I paid the first one, I open my door before a turn. The next one did not show my open door. and good luck on getting a refund it is a voluntary payment!!

  • Roger Landin

    You are allowed to confront and question your accuser, if you knew your rights you would of paid that fine in the first place.
    If you paid you will not get a refund, fight every ticket, you will find that the system cannot handle the load, like the story above reads.

  • John

    “The City of Cleveland issued a statement on Friday saying: “The Ohio Supreme Court has previously ruled that Cleveland’s automated enforcement program is constitutional.””

    When did the the Ohio Supreme Court rule on Cleveland’s camera program? I’m pretty sure they ruled on Akron’s and warned about the significant due process concerns. Cleveland, they gave you a warning and you chose to continue to break both Ohio’s law and the Ohio Constitution. You should be nailed with mail fraud too since you had plenty of reason to believe your scam was not lawful.

    • Mike

      Agreed John. Perfect example of a municipality disregarding the law through arrogance and greed. If u want to see the character of another person or entity, give it some power.

Comments are closed.