After speed cameras were deemed unconstitutional in a southwest Ohio village, drivers who received speeding citations because of the devices are now demanding a refund.
A judge in New Miami ruled in March 2014 that speed cameras violated the Ohio Constitution's due process rights, according to Journal-News. The village was subsequently ordered to cease using unmanned cameras. Almost $3 million was collected on 44,993 citations worth about $95 each. Around $1.8 million went to the village itself, while the rest of the money went to the company responsible for operating the speed cameras, Optotraffic.
Now, a group of drivers who received tickets from the speed cameras are demanding a full refund. Attorneys are trying to get back the full $3 million collected from fines. The city, however, claims that they don't have the money to reimburse the full amount, given that 40 percent of the collected fines went to Optotraffic.
"We’re entitled to all the money they collected under this scheme,” said attorney Josh Engel to Journal-News. “The fact that they paid some of this money out to Optotraffic, that’s their cost of doing business and that’s not our problem.”
The city disagrees with Engel, and New Miami's attorney James Englert maintains that the city is not responsible for returning money that it never actually received.
"The value the village is enriched by is $1.8 million -- we don’t have the other amount," said Englert. "And I don’t think it would be right for the court to hold the village for that other amount. They could have sued Optotraffic for that other amount."
In response, Engel says that it's not the faulted drivers' responsibility to sue Optotraffic. If New Miami is in desperate need of the remaining $1.2 million, then it could sue the company.
"They can’t really claim poverty in this thing," said Engel. "They can come up with the money."
Englert has plans to take the case to the state Supreme Court, and hopes to convince judges that no due process rights were violated. If he succeeds, then ticketed motorists have no chance of seeing their money refunded.
"Their theory of liability under which they are proceeding, the claim of lack of due process, we’ll certainly be taking that to supreme court," said Englet to Journal-News. "We feel confident that we did not deprive the motorists of due process. They received very fair administrative hearings."