Pending lawsuit brings uncertainty for cities who normally use traffic cameras in school zones

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PARMA, Ohio – Love them or hate them, traffic cameras are no longer being used in several Northeast Ohio communities because of uncertainty over the fate of a new state law governing their use.

In Parma, on the first day of school Wednesday, a school zone photo enforcement camera sat idle. The camera, which has been used for the last decade, resulted in more than 6,000 school zone citations last school year.

“The goal is safety for the kids. That's why we only do it in school zones,” said Sgt. Dan Ciryak. “It's predominantly in elementary school zones.”

House Bill 62, which passed in July, required civil traffic camera citation cases be handled through a municipal court or county court instead of an administrative hearing.

The law also shifts the burden of court costs to the issuer of the citation instead of the driver cited, except in cases of school zone violations.

Additionally, it reduces state funding from municipalities that use the cameras by withholding local government funds in an amount equal to that generated by the cameras.

The Village of Newburgh Heights filed a lawsuit against the State of Ohio in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court challenging the law as "unconstitutional and another blatant attempt to circumvent… home-rule powers."

Until the lawsuit is resolved, cities including Parma Heights have turned off their traffic cameras.

Although there are some exceptions in the law pertaining to school zone enforcement, Parma is awaiting resolution of the lawsuit before issuing citations.

The issue for Parma is which court will handle traffic camera cases.

“More or less on the administrative side, as to where it's going to go,” Ciryak said. “Whether it's going to go to the magistrate or through the Parma Municipal Court system.”

A hearing in the Newburgh Heights case is scheduled for Friday.

 

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