Ohio considers bill to ban traffic cameras after judge calls them a scam

Oh, the bellwether burned us in November, but it could make it up to us now!

Ohio legislators proposed a ban on traffic enforcement cameras to eliminate what they see as violations of drivers’ rights.

The recently introduced bill would eliminate the use of photo monitoring devices to detect speed and traffic signal violations. Several Central Ohio municipalities have banned the use of cameras in lieu of traffic enforcement — some after months of disputes.

Residents in Chillicothe and Heath overwhelmingly voted to eliminate red-light cameras in November 2009 after concerns that cited drivers could not face their accuser in court. The Mansfield City Council unanimously voted down an ordinance to install red-light cameras in January 2010 after a vigorous letter campaign against the proposal.

The bill’s supporters, who hope Ohio will become the nation’s 13th state to ban traffic cameras, got an assist from Common Pleas Court Judget Robert Reuhlman last week when his scathing ruling against the Village of Elmwood made national news:

“Elmwood Place is engaged in nothing more than a high-tech game of Three-card Monty,” Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman wrote in his Thursday decision. “It is a scam the motorist cannot win.” …

The judge was particularly biting in writing his decision, blasting the village for taking from its residents instead of providing services to those who pay for them.

“The entire case against the motorist is stacked because the speed monitoring device is calibrated and controlled by Optotraffic,” the judge wrote.

If motorists receiving tickets wanted to contest them, they had to request an administrative hearing that came with a $25 fee.

Elmwood’s speeding tickets cost recipients $105, which is on par with what a speeding-camera ticket will cost you in Washington, D.C. No wonder citizens are up in arms.

It’s nice to hear these revenue-raising schemes called out for what they are, and it’s equally heartening to see the appetite for statism so noticeably low. This is an area where Republicans could earn some everyman votes real quick if they knew what was good for them, and I applaud those who try.

Here in the D.C. area, where the statists are quite high on the “enhanced safety” their traffic cameras bring, they sometimes end up bordering on more trouble than they’re worth. In one Maryland county, vandalism of the cameras was so frequent, they had to install cameras to watch the cameras. Meta-statism! After getting burned a couple times in Washington, D.C., a city celebrity Chef Geoff took a capitalistic and humanitarian approach to the problem. He hired a sign spinner to warn people about the camera. The District was not amused. Although, with just one camera bringing in $12 million, it’s hard to imagine these babies would ever be worth giving up, for the city.

Liberty has a thousand battlefields. It’s always nice to see people fighting and winning on one of them. Good luck, Ohio.