Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ohio High Court: Police Can Estimate Speed to Issue Ticket

The Ohio Supreme Court issued a surprising ruling this month. In Barberton v. Jenney, Slip Opinion No. 2010-Ohio-2420, the Court ruled that an Ohio motorist could be convicted of speeding by the mere visual estimate of a trained police officer.

As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the ruling derived from the case of a Summit County man, Mark Jenney, who challenged a ticket he received in 2008 from a Copley Township police officer.

Officer Christopher Santimarino stopped Jenney on Ohio 21 and estimated the motorist was going 73 mph in a 60 mph zone. Santimarino's radar detector clocked the vehicle at 82 or 83. The officer decided to write the ticket for 79 mph, closer to what the radar gun had and not his own estimate.

But when Jenney challenged the ticket in court, Jenney's attorney John Kim was able to get the radar evidence tossed because the officer was unable to prove he had been trained to use the device.

With no radar evidence, the court reverted to Santimarino's visual estimate and eventually elected to reduce the speeding citation to 70 mph. Jenney contended that he was not speeding and that Santimarino stopped the wrong vehicle. The Supreme Court's decision affirmed a state appeals court and lower court decisions.

Justice Maureen O'Connor, who authored the majority opinion wrote, "We hold that a police officer's unaided visual estimation of a vehicle's speed is sufficient evidence to support a conviction for speeding."

The Plain Dealer reported that state Representative Robert Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat, intends to introduce a bill that would require police officers to use radar detectors or other technology to verify a vehicle's speed before issuing a ticket.

To read full opinion:

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