Beachwood Ohio Lawyer Blake Dickson Wins Appeal of Camera-issued Tickets

Cleveland faces a possible avalanche of court challenges to tickets issued by the city’s controversial traffic cameras after a lawyer won an unprecedented court ruling Thursday.

Beachwood lawyer Blake Dickson discovered a loophole in a city ordinance that he believes — and the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals agrees — shields drivers of leased or rented cars from exposure to the infuriating cameras.

Without quick action by Cleveland to plug the loophole, drivers of leased or rented cars could use the court ruling to fight camera-issued tickets at City Hall, Dickson said.

And previously ticketed drivers also could pursue a class-action lawsuit.

Drivers who own their cars and believe they are victims of a double standard could choose to file bias claims in court, Dickson said.

Cleveland began using the traffic cameras in late 2005 to increase safety and raise money. Unlike tickets issued by police officers, which are criminal violations, camera-issued tickets are civil infractions and are contested at a hearing at the Parking Violations Bureau.

The city’s 41 stationary and mobile cameras have issued more than 108,000 tickets over the most recent 12-month reporting period, or about one every five minutes. That adds up to at least $10.8 million in fines.

Dickson called the city’s camera ordinance unfair and blamed the use of the automated devices for driving thousands of people out of downtown.

“Will the city of Cleveland abide by this ruling, change the code and close this loophole? They should – the law is so ridiculous,” Dickson said.

In siding with Dickson, the appellate court agreed that the city law requires camera-issued tickets to be paid by the owners of cars. But the law does not address how to ticket cars that are leased or rented.

Dickson was the first to successfully exploit the loophole after traffic cameras issued two speeding tickets to an Audi leased by his firm, Dickson and Campbell, in 2007. Rather than paying the two $100 tickets, he fought the case on principle through three courts at an estimated cost to the firm of more than $11,000.

Appellate Judge Mary Jane Boyle wrote the opinion, reversing a ruling by Common Pleas Judge Eileen T. Gallagher, who found in favor of the city in 2007. Judge Melody Stewart concurred; Judge Colleen Conway Cooney dissented.

Boyle said in a telephone interview that Cleveland could easily fix its faulty ordinance by copying the wording of a similar ordinance in Akron, which applies camera traffic laws equally to vehicles that are leased and owned.

Cleveland Law Director Robert Triozzi said he will ask the City Council to consider an amendment.

Until that happens, however, Dickson said Cleveland could become overwhelmed by drivers who choose to fight the camera fines, believing they were unfairly ticketed.

But first, they would have to work their way through the city’s multilayered appeals process, and pay $225 in fees, Dickson said.

Triozzi said the ruling will have no impact on prior cases because the drivers of leased or rented cars would have had to challenge the law at the time the ticket was issued.

Boyle recommended against using the court’s ruling to challenge tickets.

“I was writing on this specific occurrence,” she said. “I was speaking to the evidence that was presented in these proceedings, so it may not be applicable in other cases.”

Ohio Traffic Laws

Lawmakers Look To Expand Cameras Giving Traffic Tickets

(Springfield) — Traffic cameras that snap a picture of your license plate when you run a red light may soon also send you a 100-dollar ticket when you break the speed limit.
Lawmakers are looking at adding traffic cameras to ticket speeding drivers in Chicago, the suburbs, and the Metro East.
Right now the cameras are attached to red lights,but the new cameras could be put anywhere to catch people driving too fast.
Cameras could only monitor speeding on surface streets, not expressways or interstates.

House Democrat Joe Lyons says people are driving too fast, and cameras sending out speeding tickets should slow them down.  Waukegan State Senator Terry Link says more traffic cameras will stop people from speeding and save lives. Link says since Chicago put in red-light cameras, drivers running lights dropped by half.

He says he expects cameras could also be a deterrent to speeding.

Critics say traffic cameras send out too many bogus tickets and are just a way for cities to get more money from drivers.  Link is also pushing a separate plan to expand red-light cameras to Bloomington-Normal, Rockford, DeKalb, and Decatur. Some lawmakers are fighting to keep red-light cameras out of their cities.

Link says that drivers who complain about getting tickets from cameras would be fine if they don’t run red lights or drive too fast.

WCIA3 News

Illinois Traffic Laws

Speeding Fines Could Double In NH

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Speeders in New Hampshire could be in for sticker shock as state lawmakers have proposed doubling fines.

Critics are called the proposed fine increases dramatic and unnecessary, while supporters said the state has held off on raising the rates too long, WMUR News 9’s Aaron Kellogg reported.

New Hampshire drivers pay a low price for speeding tickets compared to drivers in some New England states, but no one with whom WMUR News 9 spoke on Sunday in Epping liked the thought of raising the fines.

“I try to keep under the speed limit anyway, but that’s a lot of money,” said Josh Bergere, of Brentwood.

“I think that’s a little outrageous,” said Janice Verbe, of Epping.

“Normally, people just drive a few miles over and it just seems ridiculous to boost it that much,” said Christine Snyder, of Kingston.

A new proposal in Concord could double speeding ticket prices. Drivers traveling at 10 mph over the limit would pay $120, up from $50. Driving 20 mph over would cost $152 more at $252, and driving 25 mph over would net a fine increase of $148 at $348.

Currently in New Hampshire, ticket prices are cheaper than tickets in Maine and dramatically cheaper than tickets in Massachusetts.

If the fines change, New Hampshire tickets would, in most cases, be cheaper than tickets handed out in Massachusetts. Drivers in New Hampshire would pay more than drivers pay for tickets in Maine.

Lawmakers reviewing the plan said it’s designed make sure New Hampshire isn’t undercharging for speeding.

“The original idea was to make the fines more or less similar to other states so that we don’t have a lower fine schedule, which would indicate that we’re not serious about speeding on our highways,” said Kingston Rep. David Welch, R-District 8.

The question now is whether lawmakers will approve the plan. Even some of people who have watched the debate unfold are a little uneasy.

“I would go so far as to say that they’re a little higher than I’d like to see them. Whether they’re excessive or not depends on how fast you drive,” Welch said.

There was no clear indication when lawmakers will make a decision on the plan, but they could reach some sort of agreement as early as this week.

New Hampshire Speeding Ticket Laws

Winston County Judge Dismisses 220 Traffic Tickets

DOUBLE SPRINGS, ALABAMA – A Winston County judge threw out 220 traffic tickets this week after he and the defendants showed up for court but had nowhere to meet.

The only courtroom large enough to handle the crowd was in use by another judge, court officials said.

Winston County District Court Judge Michael Newell ordered that all pending traffic cases on his Tuesday docket, except DUI cases, be dismissed. They included tickets for speeding, driving without a license or with a suspended or revoked license, driving with switched and expired tags, driving without seat belts, and one for racing on a highway.

One man had eight tickets dismissed for various traffic infractions stretching back to 2006.

Newell said that, if a defendant had arrived late to court, he would have held the person accountable. Because of the courtroom mix-up, people with tickets who showed up on time Tuesday were being made to wait, which didn’t seem fair to Newell.

“I should hold myself to the same standard and that’s what I was trying to do,” Newell said. “I feel like I did what was appropriate in light of the situation we encountered on Tuesday.”

By the time the cases were dismissed, the defendants, some of whom were missing work, had been held up more than an hour, he said.

People who had pleaded guilty before Tuesday by paying their fines did not get their cases dismissed.

Winston County Circuit Court Judge John Bentley took the blame for the scheduling conflict. “If anyone is to blame for this stuff, it’s the presiding judge and that’s me. … The buck stops here.”

Newell had scheduled traffic court for 9 a.m. Tuesday at the county courthouse in Double Springs. That’s the same time Winston County Circuit Court Judge Lee Carter was beginning scheduled probation revocation hearings.

Carter was handling both his and Bentley’s probation revocation dockets Tuesday because Bentley was out of town, Bentley said. The revocation hearing docket had been set since September, and Bentley didn’t realize Newell had scheduled traffic court that day, he said.

Bentley said he wasn’t going to criticize Newell’s decision to dismiss the cases rather than delay them until another day.

“He felt that was the proper thing to do and I support him 100 percent,” Bentley said. “He’s the judge of that court and I’m not.”
The Alabama Administrative Office of Courts was notified of the traffic case dismissals, an official with that agency said.

“The chief justice understands from talking with presiding judge John Bentley that this incident was a result of a scheduling error with the one courtroom in Winston County and that the chief justice has been assured by Judge Bentley that he is working on this issue and that it will not happen again,” said Keith Camp, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of Courts.

One thing that will help keep scheduling conflicts down in the future is that Winston County officials are working to build a courthouse annex, Bentley said.

Winston County Administrator Joanie Wright said the county has borrowed about $6.5 million for construction. An area next to the courthouse has been cleared and prepared for construction, and county officials are reviewing plans for the annex that will include space for the additional courtroom, new jail, and district attorney and circuit court clerk offices.

“We want it as bad as they do,” she said.

Birmingham News – Kent Faulk

Traffic and speeding ticket laws in Alabama.

Monterey California Vice Mayor Cited For Running Stop Sign

MONTEREY, Calif.—Monterey Vice-Mayor Jeff Haferman insists he didn’t run a stop sign and he demands to go to trial over the $159 ticket.

Haferman is also suing the city.

He was given a traffic citation on July 26 for failure to stop Camino Aguajito and Fremont Street at the exit from northbound Highway 1.

The Monterey council member says the intersection is a “speed trap,” that city police have a ticket quota and that the city knew the sign was illegally placed in front of a traffic signal. The city has denied the allegations.

Besides wanting the traffic ticket dismissed, Haferman has asked the court for $3,000 in damages from the city.

Read about California Traffic Ticket Law

From AP Story & Monteray County Herald

Father Fights School Zone Speeding Ticket In Florida

WINTER HAVEN , FLA – Mike Greene says the $261 ticket he got for speeding 10 miles over the limit in a school zone was uncalled for.

But the police and the city say the ticket was fair and square.

The disagreement boils down to whether the slower-speed school zone was properly posted.

Greene said he pleaded not guilty this week to the ticket in Polk County Court.

Police Capt. Lisa Albury said she doesn’t see where Greene has a legitimate gripe.

On Dec. 11, he dropped his son off at viagra Middle School.

Because he had a doctor’s appointment, he took a short path he normally doesn’t take, down Fourth Street Southeast toward Avenue C Southeast.

At that point, he said, he knew without question he was in a school zone.

Then he turned right, heading west on Avenue C.

He passed Grace Lutheran Church and approached Grace Lutheran Early Childhood Center.

There’s only one school zone sign after making the turn.

It’s near the end of the Grace school property and announces: End School Zone.

He said that’s where he got pulled over.

Greene, 42, said that when an officer gave him a ticket for doing 25 in a 15 mph school zone, the officer told him, “Children are a precious commodity.”

Green, in an interview, said he agrees.

“It’s true,” he said, “so why can’t they just put up a school zone sign to warn people turning onto Avenue C to keep it slow?”

He said he believes the lack of a sign is a money-maker for the city at the expense of child safety.

He said the $261 he may have to pay for his ticket should be enough to cover the cost of a sign.

“They know there’s a problem there, but they won’t do anything about it,” he said.

This is simple, said Capt. Albury.

“When you drive into a school zone, you’re in it until you see an end school zone sign” even if you make a turn, she said.

“There are all kinds of kids and a crossing guard there,” she said.

“I don’t see where there’s a problem.”

Albury said the city, not the police, put up signs.

At City Hall, spokeswoman Joy Townsend said Albury is correct about the signs.

“When operating a motor vehicle in a school zone, all drivers should assume they are still in a school zone until they observe an ‘end school zone’ sign,” she said.

Greene said he has a good driving record and doesn’t want this blemish on it.

News Article Rick Rousos – The Ledger

Florida Traffic Laws

Colorado Lawmakers Take Steps to Increase Traffic Ticket Fines

LawGuru Answers

DENVER — Breaking the law while driving could soon cost you a lot more. State lawmakers taking the first step to increase fines on traffic tickets.

On Tuesday, a house transportation committee passed a bill that viagra double most state fines for moving violations.

“Our fines in Colorado are three times lower than states like Massachusetts and Vermont. We haven’t actually raised traffic fines in about 3 decades in Colorado,” says the bill’s sponsor, Buffie McFayden of Pueblo.

The State Patrol says it wants fines to go up on moving violations that cause crashes, like DUI, unsafe lane changes and speeding.

“We believe this is a tactic, a strategy we’ll employ to reduce our injury fatal rate,” says Terry Campbell, State Patrol legislative liaison. They hope higher fines will lower danger on the roads.

Drivers paying traffic tickets at Denver’s city and county building say the increases are a good idea. “That’s the first one in 8 years [a speeding ticket]. Being a new father with another on the way. I don’t have a problem with that,” says Erik Anderson of Englewood.

“I think I’d be more scared now to be driving or speeding, think I’d be more aware. I’d be like, ‘Oh my God. I have to pay this much,'” says Franci Moldanado of Denver.

“It does hurt the pocketbook. But it would deter me from speeding,” says Ellen Landy-Steward/Denver.

While most tickets would double, some would triple. Here are examples.

-Speeding 10 to 19 miles over the limit, the fine will increase from $50 to $135.

-Running a red light goes from $35 to $100.

-A first DUI conviction would go from a minimum $500 fine to $1,000.

-An unsafe lane change goes from $35 to $100.

-And careless driving jumps from $50 to $150.

The bill also increases from 50% to 75% the money going to the highway users tax fund if the violation happened on a state or federal highway. That money helps fund the State Patrol as well as work on state highways.

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

Tammy Vigil, Reporter


Illinois Rethinks Taking Driver’s Licenses For Traffic Tickets

As if the $125 ticket wasn’t bad enough, Lauren Kamm’s illegal left turn to Ashland Avenue in Chicago earned her an extra surprise: Her driver’s license was confiscated.

Kamm was told it would be returned after her case was completed, a process potentially lasting weeks. While she could still drive legally with a copy of the ticket, the thought of having no photo identification sent her into a panic, especially since she planned to attend a college reunion at a North Side bar the next night.

The 23-year-old public relations consultant awoke early the next morning last fall and drove to a driver’s license facility to get a state ID.

“I had to do it,” said Kamm, who lives in Wicker Park. “I wasn’t going to miss [the reunion] just because they took my license.”

Illinois is one of the few states where officers can — and often do — take a driver’s license during routine traffic stops. But a group of state officials is trying to change that. In an era when a government-issued photo ID is often needed to board an airplane or make a credit-card purchase, the practice is antiquated, they said.

“Your driver’s license is probably your only government-issued form of ID,” said DuPage County Circuit Clerk Chris Kachiroubas. “To lose it for a bad left turn, I’ve always thought that was a bad idea.”

Kachiroubas’ office is among those most aggressively pursuing the end of taking licenses and could be the closest to eliminating the process. The county is rolling out a new electronic ticketing program to reduce paper and save money, but the system also could allow drivers to pay for tickets or bail with a credit card during a traffic stop.

Now, state law requires that drivers ticketed for a moving violation post bail. They do that by paying $75 at the police station, surrendering a bond card (usually available from insurance companies) or giving up their driver’s license. Police officers also can just ask for a signature, but such leniency is rare.

Because few people have bond cards or the time to travel to a police station, they usually give
up their licenses, experts say. In some cases, drivers are not given a choice. Kamm was not, she said. Her license was returned a month later in the mail after she paid her fine.

Wholesale changes to the law cannot be made without the approval of the state Supreme Court. A subcommittee re-examining the state’s traffic bonding laws for the first time since the early 1990s is expected to make recommendations by the end of the year.

The practice of taking driver’s licenses was established in Chicago in the 1950s and later expanded statewide under the presumption that holding a license hostage makes accused lawbreakers more likely to pay their fines or come to court.

Protocols in other states vary widely. In Michigan, officers take licenses of out-of-state drivers only. In Mississippi, police can take driver’s licenses of in-state residents but rarely do. Like many states, Texas and Oregon take licenses only during drunken-driving arrests. Few take it as a common first option, like Illinois.

“The process is outdated,” said Logan County Circuit Clerk Carla Bender. “The law and the Supreme Court rule need to catch up to technology.”

Champaign County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Ford, chairman of the subcommittee, said the driver’s license issue “has been discussed” but declined to predict whether there will be changes. He said he was surprised to learn that Illinois was one of the few states that regularly take licenses as a form of bail.

“The question is, if we can get away from it, how far do we go?” Ford said.

Some less-affluent counties still might need to take licenses from people who can’t afford to pay $75, he said.

“What about in counties that aren’t as rich?” he said. “What do you take if they can’t pay a bond?”

In DuPage County, two police departments are experimenting with “e-ticketing,” which, as its name suggests, removes most paper from the ticketing equation. Officers create tickets on a laptop, hand a printed copy to drivers, then transmit the information to the police department and circuit clerk’s office.Officials hope that the system, if approved by the Supreme Court, eventually will allow some drivers to post bail or pay their tickets with credit or debit cards on the side of the road.

Police departments in West Chicago and Wheaton are testing the equipment, and a handful of other police agencies will be online soon. Most in the county are expected to be on board by the end of the year, Kachiroubas said.

The technology was bought for $2.4 million from Florida-based Advanced Public Safety.

Several police officials said they would be happy to stop taking licenses.

“From a law-enforcement standpoint, it doesn’t bother me at all,” said Laimutis Nargelenas, deputy director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. “You don’t have to deal with calls from people saying they need their license back because they have to take a trip.”

Your driver’s license, please

The state requires that drivers ticketed for a moving violation post bail in one of these ways:

*Pay $75 at the police station.

*Surrender a bond card (usually available from insurance companies).

*Give up their driver’s license.

*Signing tickets also can win release, but few officers do this.

Alternatives: DuPage County is experimenting with an electronic ticket, which could lead to drivers paying for tickets or bail with a credit card on the spot.

By Josh Noel -Tribune reporter

Illinois Traffic Laws