By on June 15, 2010

A bipartisan effort to overturn a controversial Ohio Supreme Court ruling garnered the support of twelve of the state Senate’s thirty-three members in just four days. Senators Tim Grendell (R-Chesterland) and Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) jointly introduced legislation on Thursday that would forbid police from issuing speeding tickets based solely on the officer’s best speed guess.

The bill is designed to chastise the high court for its controversial June 3 ruling that held any police officer could be certified as an expert in visual speed estimation. Once certified, the word of such and officer would be taken as proof beyond a reasonable doubt of any speeding violation alleged. As a result, police could hang up their expensive radar and laser units as no longer needed (view decision). Driver’s rights groups, including the National Motorists Association, blasted the ruling.

“The NMA has been flooded with email traffic expressing alarm and concern about the implications of courts giving judicial notice to what is, at best, a questionable method of determining how fast a vehicle is going,” NMA Executive Director Gary Biller wrote.

Biller explained that there is no hard scientific evidence to back up the accuracy of the methods used by police and that the typical certification involves little more than a few hours of training. Members of the state Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle agreed that the legislation should be overturned.

“When Ohio motorists are pulled over for speeding there should be measurable proof rather than someone’s estimate,” Senate Minority Leader Cafaro said in a statement. “This legislation clarifies the Ohio Revised Code to require verifiable evidence to issue speeding tickets.”

The proposed measure would take re-write the law so that it is clear that the legislature never intended tickets to be issued based on no more than an officer’s best guess.

“No person shall be arrested, charged, or convicted of a violation of any provision of [the speeding statute] based on a peace officer’s unaided visual estimation of the speed of a motor vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar,” Senate Bill 280 states.

The legislation referral to a committee for further consideration. A copy of the bill is available in a 10k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Senate Bill 280 (Ohio General Assembly, 6/10/2010)


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5 Comments on “Ohio: Legislature Considers Ban On “Visual Guess” Speeding Tickets...”

  • avatar

    Combine this Supreme Court decision with the efforts to ban civilian video recording of police officers. I don’t know if Ohio is one of the 18 states that have already passed such laws…but this combination kicks open the door for terrorizing citizens rather than protecting them.

    If you’re accused of breaking the law, you’re innocent until proven guilty. Evidence is required. In the case of a speeding ticket, that means something more solid than an officer’s educated guess.

    Hope Ohio does the right thing and bans “virtual guess”.

  • avatar

    So does this ban “reverse clocking?” You know the cop goes over the speed limit, waits for you to follow at the safe two car lengths behind him, he whips into a parking lot, waits for you to pass, and then pulls you over. One of Ohio’s finest State Troopers did that to me back in college in 1997. It was dark and I was simply following his tail lights at 60 in a 55, bastardo.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know what methods are actually permitted/used in Ohio (or anywhere else), but measuring another vehicle’s speed using one’s own speedometer seems like a fairly accurate mechanism.

  • avatar

    Thank God a little common sense exists in the Ohio legislature. While I understand how the justices came to their ruling, giving the police the ability to “guesstimate” speed and have that taken as proof leaves the defendant little recourse. It would be as if I see yellow, you see an orangish color, and since I wear a badge, yellow it is.

    Now if we could only get the legislature to ban speed cameras and red light cameras, we’d be in business!

  • avatar

    As I understood it, this is technically the way it’s always been done. An officer in court testifies, “I observed John Doe traveling at ‘##’ miles per hour. I then checked my [secondary speed checking device] which confirmed my primary estimation”. It’s all BS since everyone knows that cops rely 100% on whatever speed checking devices they happen to have at the time.

    I guess the Ohio Supreme Court is just saying that the secondary speed checking device is unnecessary and a cop’s simple estimation of observed speed is all that is needed for a speed violator to be found guilty in court.

    Decades ago, before the federal 55-mph speed limit and radar made it easy and highly lucrative to snare as many speed violators as possible, the best method was simply using a glorified stopwatch (Visual Average Speed Computer And Recorder or ‘VASCAR’). In the old days, it really was up to a cop to first make a visual estimation, then refer to his calculator to confirm his guess.

    Now, it’s just a matter of pointing a laser gun and pulling the trigger.

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