Toledo city officials believe the new ordinance brings the
traffic camera program in compliance with an Ohio Supreme Court
ruling last June, which effectively ended Toledo’s use of
cameras at that time. The state’s high court struck down the
city’s administrative hearing process, ruling that municipal
courts are the only place to hear traffic-camera cases. Now such
appeals will be heard by a Toledo Municipal Court judge instead
of an administrative hearing officer.
“In the time that we have not been using the cameras, there has
been a huge increase in very serious accidents and even fatal
accidents,” said long-time city council member Rob Ludeman.
“It obviously is a public health, public safety issue and I look
forward to them coming back.”
“I think it’s pretty clear that the main motivator for this
ordinance to put these cameras back is money and not public
safety,” said one angry citizen during a public hearing last
The new Toledo ordinance would bring back the camera enforcement
program April 1, 2021, involving both stationary and
hand-held traffic cameras. Civil fines would remain $120 per
violation, but adds a payment plan of $25 every 90 days to hold
off credit collection efforts.
There would be a better chance of getting caught under the new
ordinance, because there are plans to add ten more stationary
red-light cameras across the city, bringing the total to 31.
Toledo police will determine the locations of those new cameras.
There are still court cases pending related to Toledo’s use of
traffic cameras. The Ohio General Assembly passed an amended law
in the summer of 2019 that restricted the use of automated
traffic-enforcement cameras. Toledo city officials immediately
appealed that law and continued use of the cameras until the
Ohio Supreme court ruling, issuing more than 113,000 traffic
tickets in that one-year span. The city dismissed over 200
pending traffic camera cases at that time.
But a Columbus driver filed a class action lawsuit earlier this
year, demanding a refund to all motorists who were issued and
paid the $120 traffic camera citation during that time frame.
The lawsuit reads in part:
“Toledo has used [its ordinance] to
put its thumbs on the scales of justice and extract millions of
dollars from motorists through a subversion of the judicial
system, threats of increased fines and impoundment, illegitimate
lawsuits, and forcing motorist[s] to ‘appeal’ to a kangaroo
court ‘hearing officer,’ and, if unsuccessful, pay more than the
cost of the penalty to appeal to a common pleas court.”
The outcome of that Lucas County class action lawsuit could cost
the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue already
collected. The main thrust of all city appeals of state law goes
back to its authority under home rule to use traffic cameras.
There is another big change facing Toledo motorists in early 2021,
this one having to do with downtown parking. While drivers can
still enjoy some free downtown parking through the holidays, all
of that will be eliminated effective Jan. 4, 2021.
on-street parking in downtown Toledo is enforced Monday through
Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. A three-hour
midday window is at the 950 metered parking spots maintained by
ParkSmart. Weekends and holidays are also free. The
maximum stay is two hours.
Under the new rules,
free lunchtime parking is eliminated, a consistent two-hour
parking limit will be strictly enforced, and the downtown
parking enforcement area expands to include the Warehouse
District and Uptown areas. An extra hour of paid
metered parking also has been added, meaning ParkSmart
can issue parking citations Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to
Implementation of the Toledo City Council ordinance has been
delayed twice in 2020, first to allow more time to purchase and
install signs and meters and hold informational meetings. The
second delay occurred when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Drivers also can expect expedited enforcement of parking tickets
and a new schedule of fines.
Parking violations will remain $10 for the first four offenses, but
then increase to $20 for the fifth through ninth offenses, and
to $30 for the tenth or more.
Toledo city officials contend the changes will allow for greater
turnover of parking spaces and provide more access in the
downtown area for motorists, and thus, increase business.