House bill kills use of traffic cameras in Perrysburg Twp. - Sentinel-Tribune: Home

House bill kills use of traffic cameras in Perrysburg Twp.

By Roger LaPointe, Sentinel-Tribune Staff Writer | Posted: Sunday, June 9, 2019 8:03 pm

LIME CITY — As of July 3, traffic cameras are clicking off in Perrysburg Township and may disappear in the rest of the state as well.

The Perrysburg Township Trustees heard an update on the cameras, which have been in use since March, at Wednesday’s meeting.

“There would be no reason to operate this program after July 2,” said township administrator Walter Celley, township administrator. “The short story is this program will be over under this law. It will have made it financially untenable.”

The cameras are used to catch vehicle speeding violations in the township.

Police officer hand-held traffic law photo-monitoring devices have not been outlawed, but the state made their use more costly.

Truman Greenwood, the Perrysburg Township law director, informed the trustees about House Bill 62, which will be adding fees and restrictions to the use of cameras.

There have been several past attempts to get rid of the cameras, with prominent lawsuits that have resurrected their use. This time they are not being banned, but there are costs and restrictions, Greenwood said.

This iteration of the “ban” was passed as part of the FY 2020-21 Transportation Budget, which went into effect April 3, making new provisions effective July 3.

According to Greenwood, violations will go to civil, and not criminal courts. Ultimately, the political subdivision will have to pay the filing fee — win or lose — in a hearing situation, he said.

“The court will retain the advance deposit, regardless which party prevails in the civil action and prohibits the court in all those civil actions from charging the registered owner, or driver that committed the violation, from any court costs or fees,” Greenwood said. ”In this case, it expressly says you cannot charge court costs to the defendant.”

If the violator loses in court, only the penalty would be paid. There are no points put on a driver’s license when a photo camera is used.

Additionally, townships are prohibited from using the cameras on interstate highways. Cities still can, Greenwood said. Toledo has a case in Lucas County Common Pleas court seeking an injunction, but as Greenwood explained it, the result would only apply to Lucas County, unless it moved up on appeal.

“If the injunction is successful to the appellate level, I believe we will be using them on township roads and state routes, but that’s a big if,” Nixon said. “When the time comes on July 3, we’ll idle them. If there’s not an injunction, we’ll wait and see.”

Using handheld cameras, the officers take a video, from which a photo of the car and its license plate are recorded, with data about the speed. It’s sent directly from the camera to the supplier, Redflex Traffic Systems. The photos are then reviewed and sent back to the township for another, local review. After township approval, Redflex sends out the citation.

“Our program is designed so that the vehicle must be going more than 11 miles over the limit for the camera to submit a citation,” Celley said. “The officer can pull the trigger but no citation would be given without that speed.”

There have been speeds up to 108 mph recorded, said Lt. Dave Nixon, of the Perrysburg Township police.

The police department has had the cameras since March and Nixon estimates that by the end of May there were 1,700 speeding tickets issued with the new cameras. As many as 200 of them would have been during the first 30 day warning period, so fines were not owed on them. Another 100 were probably thrown out because of what he called a glitch, but the rest are citations.

“If you’ve got an advanced tech, that’s the preferred way of doing it,” Nixon said. “Pulling people over is inherently dangerous, getting hit and so forth. It was a big deal with the board.

“It can take more than 10 minutes to do a traditional stop. There’s a lot of danger getting to the stop. A lot of officers in the area are just as fearful of getting run over as being shot.”

That’s 17,000 minutes, or 283 hours time, if every traditional stop were only 10 minutes, Nixon said. That would be three and half 40 hour work weeks for two officers, if every minute of their time were spent pulling vehicles over to give them tickets.

“As you can see by the numbers, it’s very efficient to use them,” Nixon said.

Perrysburg Township has two hand-held cameras, and doesn’t have any fixed or stationary mounted ones. Speed enforcement is being performed almost exclusively with those two units, according to Nixon.

He said that township police are catching speeders on Interstate 75 with the cameras, sometimes from positions on overpasses, a process that was not previously possible.

“The vast majority of the tickets were given by officers sitting in the median,” Nixon said. “Speed kills.”

Handwritten speeding tickets are still given out in the township. Totals were unavailable at press time, but Nixon said that they would have only been given if combined with some other offense.

Citation disputes are rare. Nixon estimated there are less than 30 currently in process.