Attention lead foots: Police don't need radar to cite you for speeding.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this morning that an officer trained to estimate speed by sight doesn't need an electronic gauge to catch speeders.
The 5-1 ruling was a defeat for 27-year-old Akron-area motorist Mark W. Jenney and speeders across the state. Jenney had challenged a visual speed estimate by a Copley police officer, but a trial court and the 9th District Court of Appeals upheld his conviction.
The 8th District Court of Appeals, based in Cleveland, has ruled that police need more than sight alone to meet the standard needed to convict someone of speeding.
"The Eighth District stands alone in holding that an officer's visual estimation of the speed of a vehicle is insufficient to support a finding of guilt, and we agree with the courts that have found the opposite," Supreme Court Justice Maureen O'Connor wrote for the majority. "Rational triers of fact could find a police officer's testimony regarding his unaided visual estimation of a vehicle's speed, when supported by evidence that the officer is trained, certified by (the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy) or a similar organization, and experienced in making such estimations, sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant's speed. Independent verification of the vehicle's speed is not necessary to support a conviction for speeding."
Justice Terrence O'Donnell dissented, saying that courts should have more discretion to determine the credibility of an officer's visual speed estimate. Chief Justice Eric Brown, who joined the court after the case was heard, did not participate in the ruling.
During arguments in the case, lawyers for the state and for Barberton -- the venue where Jenney's case was heard -- argued that police can cite drivers for other infractions such as following too closely based on their visual judgments alone.
Jenney's lawyer responded that there should be more than just a visual impression, but he could not say whether a radar or laser speed measurement would be necessary.
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