Running Over the Constitution

Running Over the Constitution

A $40,000 Speeding Ticket

By AJ Wagner

It was eighty-three years ago next week that the Saturday Evening Post took on the issue of speed traps with the Norman Rockwell cover illustration “Welcome to Elmville.” The illustration, which appeared a few months ago at the Dayton Art Institute, depicts a small town policeman hiding behind a sign, stopwatch in hand, awaiting the next victim of his trap. The cover came as a result of conversation in 1929 America about the appropriate use of speeding fines to raise revenues in small towns and cities.

Enter Dayton, 2012 and the discussion continues. Here is a list of electronic cameras ready to take a picture of your car in action on Dayton’s streets if you run a red light or exceed the speed limit.

Smithville Road at Patterson Road:  Red Light Enforced
Smithville Road near Fourth: Speed Enforced
Smithville Road near Marimont: Speed Enforced
Third Street at Edwin C. Moses Boulevard:  Red Light Enforced
Third Street at James H. McGee Boulevard: Red Light Enforced
West Third Street near Hatfield :  Speed Enforced
East Third Street near Clinton: Speed Enforced
Troy Street at Stanley Avenue: Red Light Enforced
Stanley Avenue at Valley Street: Red Light Enforced
Stanley Avenue near Kuntz: Speed Enforced
South Keowee Street near Fourth: Speed Enforced
North Keowee Street near Stanley: Speed Enforced
Gettysburg Avenue at Cornell Drive: Red Light and Speed Enforced
North Gettysburg Avenue near Fairbanks:  Speed Enforced
Main Street at Hillcrest Avenue: Red Light Enforced
US 35 at Abbey Avenue: Red Light and Speed Enforced
Salem Avenue at North Avenue: Red Light Enforced
Salem Avenue at Hillcrest Avenue:  Red Light Enforced
Salem Avenue near Otterbein: Speed Enforced

In the first seventeen days after the first four of the speeding cameras had been installed more than 3,500 drivers had been spotted exceeding the limit. At $85 a pop, the City could net an estimated two million dollars each year from of these cameras.

The City Manager has said it’s not about the money, it’s about safety. The cameras have been placed in high accident areas with two cameras at each location, one covering each direction of travel. There are warning signs in place, and although that seems like a reasonable practice, many cities with cameras report an increase in rear end collisions around the cameras while reporting an overall decrease in accidents.

Once caught, a letter is mailed to the vehicle owner.  Violators are given 15 days to appeal, but never see a judge or a courtroom. About the only way to win an appeal is to provide an affidavit from the owner identifying another driver as the real violator. This is not a criminal action, but a civil action with the owner presumed to be guilty. The $85 charge is not a fine but a civil penalty. If the owner fails to pay the penalty within 15 days, a late fee of $25 is added to the toll. If there are two or more citations for a car the City has started to tow the car wherever it is found.

In my opinion the City is violating more laws than the car owners.

Running a red light and speeding are crimes. If someone commits a crime the Constitution requires they be presumed innocent. A criminal is entitled to confront those who accuse him or her of the crime. There is a right to trial in a court where witnesses can be called and the calibration and effectiveness of sensors, radar, and machinery can be challenged. Dayton plays a game by calling the camera violation a civil offense for the sole purpose of denying its citizens these important constitutional rights.

Additionally, the collection of civil penalties is regulated by state and federal law, which the City of Dayton ignores. Under Ohio law, an automobile is not subject to collection if it is valued at $3,500 or less. If a violator is found guilty of speeding in a court, there is a maximum fine of $150 plus court costs. Under the camera program Dayton can charge up to $250 and may collect a $40,000 vehicle as well without a court hearing.

This past week a 91-year old man went to the Dayton Municipal Courts Building to pay his camera violation. When he came back out, his car was being hooked up to a tow truck. He argued that he had paid the penalties but got no sympathy. His car was towed adding to his expenses and leaving the elderly man without a way home.

My friends at Dyer, Garofalo, Mann and Schultz are preparing a suit against the city. If you’re car has been towed call them at 223-8888 to join the suit.

As my dad said, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Speeders are wrong, but so is a city that ignores the constitutional rights of its citizens.

Disclaimer: The content herein is for entertainment and information only. Do not use this as a legal consultation. Every situation has different nuances that can affect the outcome and laws change without notice. If you’re in a situation that calls for legal advice, get a lawyer. You represent yourself at your own risk. The author, the Dayton City Paper and its affiliates shall have no liability stemming from your use of the information contained herein.

A.J. Wagner is an attorney with the law firm of Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman and Swaim at 15 W. Fourth Street in Dayton. A.J. and his firm would be glad to help you with all of your legal needs. You can reach A.J. at (937) 223-5200 or at AJWagner@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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A.J. Wagner is an attorney with the law firm of Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman and Swaim at 15 W. Fourth Street in Dayton. A.J. and his firm would be glad to help you with all of your legal needs. You can reach A.J. at (937) 223-5200 or at AJWagner@DaytonCityPaper.com.

5 Responses to “Running Over the Constitution” Subscribe

  1. Stephen April 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Please add West Carrollton to the list. They do it as well. Please add them to the suit.

  2. kelly madewel April 22, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    I hope all the people who had their car towed, vote in the next city election.it’s made a voter out of me!! I never thought i would see the day the government would take my property without a tria of anykind!! Is this still america?god bless the city paper for being our voice.there the only media ive seen who has asked any legal questions. if a media group always does the governments bidding,its not news,its propaganda!! I bet city commissioners dont pay camera tickets.im 40 and naver had a dui,speeding tick,red light tick ,or a point on my license.ive ben given safe driver awards from my insurance.yet these cameras have given me 5 of these red light ticls because the light was green when i was 15 feet away,and turnard yellow as i was starting to cross the white line.next time im locking them up.hope theres know school bus behind me,they dont have saftey belts.if the city is so concerned about safety and not cash,why domnt they put safety belts on my six year olds,special needs bus

  3. John August 13, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Dayton City law requires these cameras be placed at an intersection with a traffic light, but the city has many that aren’t. This is why Ohio may ban these things. The cities running these scams don’t comply with US or state laws, and Dayton can’t even follow the they wrote.

  4. John August 21, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    Nine of their speed camera aren’t even legal under Dayton Law (R.C. 70.121) Section A 1 says that the ATCPS is what imposes the monetary liability. When you read the definition of what an ATCPS is, it’s clear that any camera that is not at an intersection can not be an ATCPS. The are two seperate clauses in their short definition that require it to record a vehicle at an intersection to be an ATPCS. If it’s not at an intersection it can’t be an ATCPS and if it isn’t an ATCPS it can’t impose a fine.

    That’s not their only problem. Section D 1 d requires that they list the intersection, and they cannot do that if it isn’t at an intersection. No notice of liability without listing an intersection can be valid because Dayton law uses the word shall for what must be included.

    The whole thing is such a mess that it makes me wonder if Dayton is violating their law with intent, or is it a product of their failed school system. I suppose there are other possibilities, but any way you look it it they are breaking their own law, and the people of the Miami valley need to show them how Elmwood Place felt when they had their scameras taken away.

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  1. Where Are the Speed Cameras/Red-Light Cameras in Dayton? | Ohio DUI | OVI Blog - April 19, 2012

    [...] red-light cameras.  Today, in an article by former Montgomery County Common Pleas A.J. Wagner, the Dayton City Paper takes on the red-light and speed cameras.  As we have put forth here, the red-light and speed [...]

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