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Proof Of Speed Wanted

Lawmakers Seek to End Police Guessing

POSTED: June 22, 2010

COLUMBUS - Two Ohio lawmakers are looking to overturn a state Supreme Court ruling that allows police officers to visually estimate the speed of a vehicle and then issue a speeding ticket.

Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Geauga, and Sen. Capri S. Cafaro, D-Trumbull, jointly introduced a bill this month - Senate Bill 280 - that would amend section 4511.091 of the Ohio Revised Code to specifically not allow a police officer to issue a speeding ticket based on his or her guess.

Both senators said the legislation would clarify state law and require officers to provide proof that a person was actually speeding.

"No person shall be arrested, charged, or convicted of a violation of any provision of (the speeding statute) based on a peace officer's unaided visual estimation of the speed of a motor vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar," the bill states, thus requiring evidence beyond just an officer's personal observations such as a radar gun clocking the vehicle.

The attempt by Grendell and Cafaro doesn't sit well with some area law enforcement personnel. Sgt. Don Britton of the Ohio State Highway Patrol's St. Clairsville post claims most officers can estimate the speed of a vehicle within just a few miles per hour.

"It is part of our training," he said. "We often use visual means to pace a vehicle and then use radar, laser or an airplane to clock the vehicle. However, visual can be used in a residential area where you cannot get a precise radar reading."

Ohio peace officers are required to certify in various areas including the visual pacing.

Britton said officers are "very good" at estimating the speed of vehicles. "We are usually within 3 mph," he said.

Harrison County Sheriff Ronald "Joe" Myers also believes said the practice of visually estimating a vehicle's speed is nothing new for officers in Ohio.

"We will sometimes visually observe a vehicle and then use the radar if we estimate it to be traveling at an excessive speed," he said.