Speed Camera Constitutionality

While we always advocate drivers obey the law when on the road, we also advocate that drivers be aware of their rights under the law. The use of automated traffic enforcement equipment has always been controversial. Those advocating this type of equipment extol its virtues for saving lives while others write it off as a money-making operation trampling our constitutional rights. These are important issues for all drivers, including those taking online drivers ed.

In the United States we have a collection of rights spelled out in the Constitution and the Bill Of Rights and the use of devices such as speed cameras, appear to be in conflict with our rights. Specifically, the Bill Of Rights provides rights such as “due process guarantees” spelled out under both the fifth and fourteenth amendments. A traffic ticket issued in Elmwood Park, Ohio was challenged in court which has brought issues surrounding automated enforcement equipment into the lime light.

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Constitutionality of speed cameras is being challenged.

The judge on the case in Elmwood Place, Ohio ruled in favor of a driver ticketed by a speed camera. Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman ruled that the use of speed cameras violated the defendants “due course of law” in Ohio, which is identical to “due process of law” under the U.S. Consitution. The judge was unequivocal in his ruling as seen here with a few quotes from the ruling:

  • “There is no opportunity to obtain any discovery about the device or to subpoena any witnesses that may have knowledge of the device.”
  • “Morever, the device was not calibrated by a certified Police Officer…”
  • “It is a scam that motorists can’t win”
  • “The entire case against the motorist is stacked because the speed monitoring device is calibrated and controlled by OptoTraffic.”
  • “Elmwood Place is engaged in nothing more than a high-tech game of 3 CARD MONTY

The complete judge’s ruling is very colorful and spells out several issues of constitutionality with regard to the use of automated traffic enforcement equipment. The final words in the judgement lend a sarcastic note to the fact that these programs are mostly seen as revenue generators for the township with no regard for the constitution. The local news organization’s coverage makes note of the potential national impact of the ruling that speed cameras are invalid and unenforceable.

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