Stupid traffic law: Ohio court rules that cops can ticket you for speeding if it “looks like” you’re speeding
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on June 7th, 2010
Now here’s a truly bogus traffic law.
In a 5-1 ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled last week that police officers can pull you over and legally ticket you if it “appears” to the officer that you are speeding.
No radar is needed.
No mechanized speed checks required.
No VASCAR timing has to be set up.
None of those are needed in Ohio anymore.
Nope. Just a cop deciding that you are “speeding.”
So how did the court come up with such a brilliant standard?
Get this: the court ruled that it’s just fine for an officer to estimate a driver’s speed if the officer is experienced in pursuing speeders or has been properly trained in police work, according to a story on Ohio.com.
Now you can get a speeding ticket in Ohio, which will hike your insurance rates and cost you a bunch of money, based on an arbitrary, split-second, out-of-the-blue “estimate” from the friendly neighborhood police officer who wants to ruin your day.
Under this new legal interpretation ordered by the court, Ohio police won’t be required to verify a driver’s speed with any kind of measuring equipment that can allegedly prove the speed in the first place.
That’s just the stupidest, most outrageous and unfair ruling by a court in quite a while.
Will Ohio cops soon no longer be giving Breathalyzer tests or obtain blood tests for suspected drunk drivers and instead “estimate” or “guess” if that driver is drunk, based on the officer’s seat-of-the-pants knowledge and experience?
Will an Ohio cop next be able to “guess” that a car is stolen by observing it driving down the road and heeding to his “experience,” instead of checking a license plate number in a law enforcement database and confirming that the vehicle was actually reported stolen?
What in the world was the Ohio Supreme Court thinking?
This is a bad and dangerous ruling by the court and a ridiculous extension of the state’s powers that is in complete disregard for due process and fairness for every motorist.
In the Ohio case, according to the Ohio.com story, a driver in the town on Copley challenged a speeding ticket because it was issued based on the police officer’s visual observations and not on any type of mechanized or electronic speed analysis. “The officer said it appeared to him that the man was driving too fast,” according to Ohio.com.
Let’s hope that other states don’t follow this poor excuse for a reasonable traffic law.
Human beings, including police officers, are certainly not infallible.
Allowing the police to arbitrarily and legally “estimate” a driver’s speed in a moving vehicle for the issuance of a traffic ticket might be one of the most ridiculous decisions issued by a court in long, long time.
Even when police officers use radar, VASCAR and other speed-estimating equipment, they can make mistakes with calibration, operation and procedures. Now they’ll just essentially be able to “guess” your speed?
So how’s a driver to protect himself from such a law?
First, certainly avoid driving in Ohio until this outrageous and invasive ruling is overturned by a higher court in the future.
Also, never admit anything to an officer if you are stopped for a traffic violation.
And if you are ticketed, based on a cop’s “guess” or on the readings of a speed-tracking device, be sure to talk to a lawyer and get legal advice on how to best proceed.
Remember — just because a police officer’s measurement machine appears to show that you were speeding, that doesn’t mean that you were traveling too fast. Mistakes happen, even with machines.
Can you imagine how flagrant such mistakes will be now in Ohio, based on a police officer’s speed “estimates?”
Ohio drivers had better beware.
Oh yes, and look like you’re driving slowly, whatever that looks like.