Ohio legislators, liberties groups oppose traffic cameras

By DAN SEWELL | Associated Press Published:

CINCINNATI -- Nearly 30 Ohio legislators and two civil liberties groups are backing a motorist's challenge to traffic cameras that's going before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Among the lawmakers are Reps. Dale Mallory, D-Cincinnati, and Ron Maag, R-Lebanon, who are pushing legislation to ban or sharply restrict camera use in the state. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law filed legal briefs this week urging the state's high court to rule in favor of a motorist who said the city of Toledo usurped the judicial system and violated his constitutional rights to due process.

The brief filed by the 1851 Center is joined by 29 state legislators who say traffic enforcement systems, in which administrative hearings are used to hear appeals by ticketed motorists, attempt to "circumvent and thwart" the state legislature's powers as well as the courts.

Other Ohio cities -- including Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton -- that use cameras for traffic enforcement have filed briefs in support of Toledo. The Ohio Municipal League stated that the case could potentially affect "every Ohioan who drives or owns a vehicle."

Supporters say cameras stretch police resources and make communities safer. Opponents charge that they violate rights and are meant mainly to raise revenue.

Mallory said legislation against cameras that passed the House last year is moving "at a turtle's pace" in the Senate.

"I would have rather had a complete ban," Mallory said. "Citizens of Ohio are still being victimized by these cameras."

Mallory said. "Right now, this whole process is unconstitutional and it goes on every day."

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