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Monday, April 24, 2006
Cleveland, Ohio to Use Cameras to Seize Cars
Courtesy of Mk

Cleveland, Ohio is expanding its lucrative red light camera and speed camera program to include the confiscation of cars. The city council is considering an "emergency" ordinance to make it a crime to own a vehicle that "displays license plates that are associated with four or more of any combination of unpaid parking infraction judgments and/or notices of liability for... or red light or speeding violations." The guilt or innocence of the owner to the original charge is irrelevant to the city. The proposed ordinance also blocks the renewal of car registrations for anyone the city claims has not paid all fines. It also allows the city to contract with private bounty hunters to collect on unpaid tickets. The cash-strapped city is looking to these private contractors to collect millions in outstanding fines. Under the proposed ordinance, seized vehicles will only be released if the owner admits guilt and pays towing, storage, impound and administrative fees on top of cost of the original tickets. An owner who, for example, never received the original tickets in the mail and wishes to maintain his innocence must still pay the original tickets before his car is returned. Cleveland Police have already admitted that they do not review all photo enforcement tickets for accuracy before the private vendor ACS issues them. The city plans to make $4 million a year from camera tickets. Last August, a judge in Albuquerque, New Mexico struck down a similar camera seizure ordinance as unconstitutional.