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Ohio Supreme Court Upholds Use Of Traffic Cameras, But Columbus Won't Revive Them

Red light camera in Springfield, Ohio.
Derek Jensen
Wikimedia Commons

The Ohio Supreme Court has again upheld cities' use of traffic camera enforcement, striking down as unconstitutional legislative restrictions that included requiring a police officer to be present. But Columbus officials say the city won't rush to bring their cameras back.

The justices voted 5-2 in a ruling Wednesday, the third time the high court has ruled for cities on cameras.

The city of Dayton had challenged the law SB 342, which took effect in 2015, saying it improperly limited local control and undercut camera enforcement that has made cities safer.

Columbus had 44 red light cameras at 38 intersections in 2015. But amid state lawmaker efforts to restrict their use, and in the wake of a scandal involving the city's former red light camera vendor, Columbus got rid of them.

Dayton and other cities said the law's restrictions, which also required a three-year traffic study, made traffic cameras cost-prohibitive.

The state countered that the law is within the legislature's powers as a "statewide and comprehensive" way to regulate enforcement of traffic. And critics say cities use them to boost revenues while violating motorists' rights.

Despite the ruling, says Columbus' assistant director of public safety Cathy Collins, the city is not looking to obtain red light cameras again. The decision to fund them would ultimately come from City Council.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.