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Ohio High Court Upholds Cameras

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

Red-Light Cameras

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.