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Ohio Supreme Court Rules Red-Light Cameras Are Legal

March 11, 2008

AKRON, OHIO – Ohio cities may operate automated cameras to catch drivers who run red lights, the state Supreme Court ruled Jan. 31, according to Richard Lightner, executive vice president of The Ohio Vehicle Leasing Association (OVLA).

In a 7-0 ruling, justices struck down a challenge to Akron’s red-light cameras. If the ruling had gone the other way, Columbus and other cities that nab drivers with the increasingly common systems would have been forced to take them out.

Kelly Mendenhall, an Akron-area driver cited under that city’s red-light ordinance, brought the legal challenge on the basis that local red-light laws exceed a city’s home-rule authority because they conflict with the state’s definition of traffic violations as criminal offenses.

Cities, including Columbus, treat red-light violations spotted on camera as civil infractions, meaning that drivers are slapped with fines ($95 in the case of Columbus) but no points on their driving records.

Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, writing for the court, said there’s no conflict between city ordinances and state traffic laws.

“When a municipal ordinance does nothing more than prohibit the same conduct prohibited by state statute, there is no conflict between the two,” she wrote.

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