New Ohio Senate Bill seeks to severely limit the use of traffic cameras

June 4, 2014
Legal Update

On May 20, 2014, Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, introduced Senate Bill 342 (S.B. 342), which is another attempt by the State legislature to severely restrict red-light and speed cameras - defined in the bill as “traffic law photo-monitoring devices.”  The Ohio House voted almost one year ago on a bill that would ban municipalities from using red-light or speed cameras except for limited use in school zones.  However, there was concern regarding the bill’s potential violation of constitutionally-protect home rule authority, leading Sen. Seitz to craft this alternative bill.

Overall, S.B. 342 establishes procedures by which local authorities may deploy red-light or speed cameras and issue tickets for traffic violations detected by those devices.  Notably, the bill would require a law enforcement officer to be present at the location of any traffic law photo-monitoring devices at all times during the operation of the device.  Local authorities would be prohibited from issuing a traffic ticket if a law enforcement officer is not present.

The bill also imposes signage requirements for all traffic law photo-monitoring devices.  Local authorities must erect signs within 300 feet of each fixed device location; traffic tickets based on evidence produced by a traffic law photo-monitoring device at a fixed location will generally be invalid if a sign is not yet erected.  Additionally, mobile traffic law photo-monitoring devices must be conspicuously marked in a trailer or vehicle.

The bill imposes further procedural requirements for deploying new traffic law photo-monitoring devices.  The bill would require local authorities to take all of the following actions prior to deploying a new device:

In addition to these requirements, the bill specifies options that must be available to a person who receives a ticket, outlines criteria by which a local authority must follow to establish an administrative hearing process, and imposes certain maintenance requirements for the traffic law photo-monitoring devices.

If passed, these restrictions and requirements would have a significant monetary effect on local authorities that wish to utilize these devices.  Many believe this bill is a creative way to effectively ban these devices.

For more information, contact Yazan Ashrawi, Philip Hartmann, Frank Reed or any other member of the Frost Brown Todd Government Services practice group.