Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Red Light, Green Light

Cincinnati City Council--where bad ideas never really die, they just . . . hang out until the next budget shortfall.

It looks like "red light cameras" have enough votes (Cole, Cranley, Crowley, Qualls, and Thomas) to become part of Cincinnati life. Mayor Mallory seems to object to the idea (so far as I can tell from the Enquirer's coverage) only on the grounds of timing. So there's no telling what he'd do if the cameras are part of the overall budget submitted to him.

Assuming the cameras will be implemented as they have been in other Ohio cities, here's how they work: go through a red light at an intersection with a camera, and a picture of your car (in the middle of the intersection under a red light) will be taken. A "ticket" will be sent to the vehicle's owner.

It's not a typical traffic ticket, though. The violation is strictly a civil offense. No "points" are reported to the BMV or to your insurance company. And you have the right to appeal. But, if Cincinnati uses the plan used elsewhere (and we haven't seen the details yet), you'll have to pay the fine before you appeal. And your "appeal" won't be to HamCo Municipal Court (where we have elected judges), but probably to some hearing officer the City hires.

I suppose we'll soon start seeing lots of ads from this company, which claims to make a product that will make your license plate unreadable when photographed by red light cameras. (I guess it'd make a great stocking-stuffer for your favorite traffic scofflaw.)

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