The dreaded flash of red light cameras will not be easing up anytime soon, but the process afterwards is facing some scrutiny. In Ohio, that is. If you haven’t had to go through the drill with red light camera citations, then you’re lucky. Right now if the camera programming thinks you’re breaking traffic rules by speeding or running a red light, it will flash a picture and you’ll conveniently receive a fine in the mail. This takes out the need for traffic cops to monitor for those frequent traffic violations and it also has brought a serious increase in revenue for the courts.
Only the courts are hardly involved. Upon receiving the fine in your mailbox, hopes are that you’ll mail the amount due and never even see a human face during the entire lucrative deal. And, in Ohio, if you would like to argue the ticket you’re only option is to speak to an administrative clerk. Last anyone checked, that’s nowhere near the proper municipal court procedures.
Then in comes the Jodka vs Cleveland court case. Sam Jodka paid his fine, but quickly followed up in a lawsuit questioning the court procedure around traffic cameras. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled last Friday that Jodka is correct and traffic appeals should be made in municipal court just like cop-issued traffic tickets. So change is on the horizon… or is it?
Following the case, Cleveland temporarily suspended traffic hearings on traffic camera appeals. For a while. The victory for Jodka was a hollow one. While the court did conceded that he was correct, they still refused a refund of his fine because it had “no standing” — meaning he’ll have to go through the same exact process that he’s been protesting in court. The administrative clerks were watching the case, along with other traffic branches involved, and they took a sigh of relief when the fine print came out. Cleveland courts quickly resumed business as usual, taking the “no standing” part of the ruling as an all clear.
Traffic cameras have received mixed reactions ever since they were first installed. It’s held more drivers accountable, no longer able to get away with only easing up on the gas pedal when they see a cop car. Then there’s the argument that it’s just a way for the traffic courts to bring in quick cash. Lawsuits and legislative bills have called for more action on the side of both courts and traffic enforcement. All in all, while the process has been slow and an expected pain in the neck, progress is being made.