I-Team: Who pays camera tickets for gov't vehicles? - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

I-Team: Who pays camera tickets for gov't vehicles?

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

Tens of thousands of red light and speed camera tickets have been issued in Toledo over the past year.  The 13abc I-Team has uncovered that includes all kinds of city, county and school district vehicles. 

So who pays those fines? Are the tax payers on the hook? It's something the I-Team has spent months investigating, digging through hundreds of records. 

Some of those records include video of the violations. Among the violations the I-Team found was a Toledo Public Schools bus running a red light at the intersection of Cherry and Delaware on November 7. 

The I-Team discovered three red light citations in 2012 for the district and several more for speeding. 

"I was surprised to see we had some of that.  I know, when I had an opportunity to do some investigations there were various reasons for that," said James Gant, the TPS Chief Business Manager.  "There could be some weather issues.  Obviously there could be some timing issues and so forth and to be honest with you sometimes folks are not paying attention the way they should be." 

TPS is not the only government entity with violations. The I-team uncovered dozens and they include: 

  • A TARPS running a red light at Alexis and Lewis and two at Laskey and Lewis.  Those two tickets only 6 days apart. 
  • A bus with the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities caught going 32 in a 20.  Another one was running a red light
  • A car from the Lucas County Commissioners office going 61 in a 50.
  • A Port Authority SUV 46 in a 35.
  • Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority car running a red light.

The group with the largest amount of violations is the City of Toledo. It's the largest fleet, but it's still not acceptable, according to the city's safety director. 

"Not surprising because we have our city employees out in vehicles throughout the city conducting city official business," said City of Toledo Safety Director Shirley Green. 

The I-Team found 65 camera violations for city vehicles, including red light and speed violations. 

"It's not surprising that there are violations out there," said Green.   

So just who pays the tickets?  Tax payer money bought the vehicles, so do those same tax payers pay fines?  So far the answer is "no."  City officials say it isn't hard to identify the driver of their vehicles.  It's up to the department head to get to the employee to pay.

"It's bothersome but we're going to make sure department heads take care of their business," said Green. 

Here is the most updated list from Toledo police with how many of the tickets are paid and how many are still outstanding or in collections...

65 total issued in 2012:

  • 25 In Default
  • 15 Printed/Mailed
  • 12 Paid in full
  • 5 In Collections
  • 3 Reissued to the Driver
  • 2 On Hold
  • 2 Dismissed
  • 1 Issued in Error

Many entities like TPS sign the affidavit on the ticket saying who was actually driving the vehicle. 

"It's not a liability to the district at that point anymore.  So whether they pay it or not is really between them and the company.  But we make sure it's not a liability to the district," said Gant.  

An appeal can be filed. After 21 days a late fee is issued. If it's still not paid, it goes into default and then into collections.

But as the I-Team found there's not a lot of motivation to pay these tickets.  According to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles if you have an unpaid moving violation that will affect your ability to renew your license and registration. Three or more unpaid parking violations will affect your ability to renew registration.  Any unpaid red light or speed camera violations affect neither. 

These new images also bring up questions of safety.  Whenever a bus has a violation, school district leaders bring that driver in for a safety meeting.

"We also want to make sure they're conscious of the way they drive.  And there is a hearing process that goes on to make sure they know the importance of being safe so they go through a hearing process," said Gant.  

Those are not the only public entity with tickets.  We also found Washington local school, Central Catholic High School, and Ottawa Hills Schools.  Every entity we talked with said their policy is to pass along that ticket to their employee, the driver.

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