Ohio court again sides with cities in traffic camera ruling

By JOHN SEEWER, Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court sided with cities again in their dispute with the state over traffic cameras, ruling Wednesday that an earlier decision upholding use of the cameras applies to two more cities.
It’s the fourth time the state’s highest court has come down in favor of cities that use the cameras to issue tickets for speeding and red-light violations.
The court, in a 4-3 decision, said its ruling in July that upheld Dayton’s use of the traffic cameras should be applied to cases involving cameras in Toledo and Springfield.
That means those cases will go back to county courts.
Dayton, Toledo and Springfield have been challenging a 2015 state law that put restrictions on using the cameras, including requiring that an officer be present when cameras are being used.
The cities argued the rules undercut camera enforcement and made it too costly for cities to operate. Several cities stopped using their fixed traffic cameras after lawmakers changed the rules.
The state, though, maintained it had the authority to regulate traffic enforcement across the state and argued the law was a good compromise on the traffic cameras.
Justice Pat DeWine was one of three justices opposing the court’s decision issued Wednesday. He said the ruling in July was fractured and lacked a majority view to apply to the other two cities.
“The decision adds nothing but more confusion,” he wrote.
Critics say the cameras are only boosting revenues for cities while violating motorists’ rights. But the cities say they increase safety on the roads and allow police to focus on other crimes.
Still to be decided by the Ohio Supreme Court is whether the state can withhold discretionary funds from cities that use traffic cameras.
Also pending is a legislative proposal that would offset revenue cities earn from cameras by reducing the same amount from its state funding.