Following the California Supreme Court's lead, the Ohio Supreme Court
has ruled that red-light cameras are legal.
In a 4-3 vote, the justices upheld a 2008 case which ruled that Ohio cities
have "home-rule" authority to install red-light cameras at intersections.
The court declined to wade into the
revenue-vs.-safety debate that is raging around these devices, choosing instead to base their ruling
on narrow, technical grounds.
The lawyer for a motorist said he would ask the court to reconsider its
decision, in light of the sharply divided vote and the nationwide implications
The defendant in the California camera case has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to
review the matter. But the high court only grants about 4 percent of the requests
for review that it sees, so the chances are that the decision will stand.
Unlike some other jurisdictions, traffic citations in the Golden State
are not civil matters. So, when you get a traffic ticket in Bakersfield,
you have the right to confront your accuser. The problem is that there
is no accusing witness in a red-light camera case. The camera takes a
picture and a computer generates the citation. A police officer or technician
may appear as the state's witness, but that person can only read the
computer-generated report and watch the video. The witness has no personal
knowledge of the event.
To get around this problem, the governor signed
Senate Bill 1303 in September 2012. Under this law, computer reports and pictures in a
red-light camera case are presumed to be authentic, so a live witness
is not needed. Bakersfield recently renewed its contract with Redflex, but
more and more jurisdictions are getting rid of them.