In the six weeks since New Miami police began using new hand-held technology to catch speeders, about 250 people have been clocked driving more that 10 miles over the speed limit, according to Police Chief Dan Gilbert.
For now, the drivers have received only warnings. Starting this week, though, New Miami will once again be ticketing speeders.
After a Butler County judge ruled in 2014 that stationary speed cameras were unconstitutional, the village pulled the plug on the system that issued $95 civil speeding citations.
The speed cameras were installed in 2012 and after 15 months in operation, the village collected about $1.8 million on 44,993 citations.
Now, village officials will again issue civil tickets to people going 10 miles or more over the speed limit using new LIDAR technology, which features a camera mounted to a hand-held radar device. The portable “gun” is radar that creates a picture, which Gilbert said is evidence.
“This is hands-on,” Gilbert said. “Police officers are actually out there pulling the trigger for every offense. They are actually seeing the offense.”
Using an computer pad, a photo is created the includes the GPS location of the offense, date, time and vehicle. After later approval by a supervisor, the citation is issued by mail to the registered owner of the vehicle.
A local authority has the ability to use traffic law photo monitoring if an officer is present and personally witnesses the violation, according to state law. New Miami’s LIDAR program meets this requirement because a full-time officer will witness, capture, review and issue the citations, according to village officials.
Gilbert said the village receives 65 percent of the $95 fine, but the driver is not assessed points on his or her license. The driver’s insurance is not affected either, unlike with a criminal speeding citation. Gilbert noted a regular traffic citation can cost as much as $200 after court costs.
“For me, it is not a speed camera enforcement program, it is a traffic safety program,” Gilbert said, adding that it will get the attention of people driving at unsafe speeds through the village.
U.S. 127 winds through the village that has a population of 2,200 people. The speed limit drops to 35 and 40 miles per hour, depending on the location.
“We are not setting the speed limit. That is set by state law,” Gilbert said. Motorists, he said, have been ticketed driving up to 65 mph in a 40 mph zone.
“We have a speeding problem in New Miami. So we address it often,” Gilbert said, but he noted there is no schedule that assigns an officer to run LIDAR an entire shift.
In fact, unlike the stationary units, it is possible there are times no speed cameras will be operating in the village.
“It’s a crap shoot. You take your chances,” Gilbert said.
Beginning the first week of February, motorists will begin getting civil citations from New Miami in the mail. Drivers can request an administrative hearing if they have any concerns, Gilbert said.
While he admits he wasn’t sold on the stationary “cameras on a pole,” Gilbert said LIDAR, which has been used by law enforcement for 20 years, is a good use of technology that helps officers do their job.
“If you don’t speed, this program goes away,” Gilbert said.