Ohio state House votes to use speed cameras to mail near $300 tickets to freeway drivers.
A deeply divided Ohio House of Representatives on Thursday passed sweeping legislation that would impose new penalties on motorists, including a statewide speed camera program. State Representative Peter S. Ujvagi (D-Toledo) inserted the controversial proposals into a “must pass” $7.6 billion transportation funding measure to avoid individual discussion of the merits of the many programs rolled into the 361-page bill. Only one Republican voted in favor of Ujvagi’s plan, which passed by a margin of 53-45.
The bill would make it a primary offense to stop a motorist who either forgets to wear a seatbelt or chooses not to do so, even if he has committed no other offense. The plan would make it easier for police to issue seatbelt tickets which, in other states, have become a significant source of revenue. In addition to raising a number of motoring fees, Ujvagi envisions a statewide freeway speed camera program as a secondary means of increasing the state’s ability to spend.
The program allows the state to lower the speed limit in “construction zones” on freeways so long as there is one designated worker present. A private, for-profit company will station speed camera vehicles in these zones to photograph motorists and generate a $250 ticket — plus an unspecified fee — mailed up to ninety days after the alleged offense took place.
The recipient of this ticket will be presumed guilty unless he can prove to the Department of Public Safety in a “nonjudicial, administrative hearing” that he is innocent using evidence that the agency considers “reliable and credible.” From each ticket, the state will pay $125 to the city or county in whose jurisdiction the alleged offense took place. Another $12.50 will go to a state trauma fund. The remainder will be split between the state and the private vendor in charge of ticketing. Anyone failing to pay the fee will have his license suspended, or, in the case of out-of-state drivers, be banned from operating a motor vehicle in Ohio.
The state of Illinois was the first to deploy photo radar on freeways in May 2006 with the claim that the program would save the lives of highway workers. A number of studies suggest that only 15 percent of freeway construction zone injuries are caused by automobiles. A far greater number of workers are injured by their own construction equipment.
A copy of the legislation is available in a 1mb PDF file at the source link below.
Source: House Bill 2 (Ohio General Assembly, 3/7/2009)