Controversial Ohio Ruling Says Officers Don’t Need Radar for Speeding Tickets

Two Ohio lawmakers plan to introduce legislation designed to overturn a state supreme court decision allowing police officers to issue speeding tickets based on their visual estimate that a car is violating the speed limit.

The legislation would require officers to use radar detectors or other technology to verify speed before issuing a ticket, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Earlier reports on the June 2 ruling (PDF) generated a flood of critical online comments, the Plain Dealer says. The legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, James Hardiman, also weighed in, telling the Plain Dealer that the decision is “a giant step backwards” that creates a climate for police abuses, including racial profiling.

The court ruled in the case of Mark Jenney, who obtained a ruling barring evidence of speeding from an officer’s radar gun because the policeman was unable to produce proof at trial that he had been trained to use the device.

The trial court allowed the officer’s visual estimate that Jenney was traveling at 70 miles an hour, though the speed limit was 60. The state supreme court affirmed, holding that an “unaided visual estimation of a vehicle’s speed” by an experienced officer with special training and certification is enough to support a conviction.

The Akron Beacon Journal and the Columbus Dispatch also have stories on the ruling.

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