Society

Judge Orders Removal of Traffic Cameras from Ohio Village, Fines Reimbursed

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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A judge in Hamilton County, Ohio, found a village in contempt of court Thursday after it ignored his order against using traffic cameras. All cameras will have to be taken down in Elmwood Place, a small Ohio locale surrounded by Cincinnati, and any fines collected must be returned.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman ruled March 7 to strike down a village ordinance from last September that allowed traffic cameras to be used to catch speeders.

“Any money collected after my ruling is to be returned,” the judge stated, according to the Associated Press.

Ruehlman ordered Elmwood Place and the camera vendor Optotraffic to reimburse all fines collected since his ruling, which amounts to about $48,000.

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The Elmwood Place police chief claimed the cameras were only turned on after the March 7 ruling in order to conduct a speeding study, but Optotraffic still issued tickets in the first weeks after the injunction.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Mike Allen, an attorney who sued the village over the tickets. “They violated Judge Ruehlman’s order that the cameras be shut down.”

The suit was filed on behalf of 10 citizens, including business owners who said the speeding ticket influx was hurting business. Allen is considering a class action suit that could seek as much as $1.5 million in repayment of fines.

Ruehlman ordered that the sheriff’s department confiscate the traffic cameras. The village will have to pay for any expenses in order to take down and store the surveillance equipment.

The lawsuit was filed against the city when thousands of people were ticketed within several months. Maryland-based traffic camera vendor, Optotraffic, received 40 percent of the traffic citation revenue.

Iowa City, Iowa, moved to ban drones, red light cameras and license plate readers earlier this month. A local petition created by citizen group StopBigBrother.org cited statistics that traffic surveillance technology does not increase public safety but only increases city revenue.

Sources: Fox News, USA Today