In a 5-1 ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court decided that a trained police officer’s visual estimate of a cars speed is sufficient proof to assess a finding of guilty with a speeding ticket.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, the defense argued unsuccessfully that the court should have more discretion to question the judgement of the officer’s option, depending on the exact facts in the case.
The obvious questions this decision raises, is now that an officer’s opinion is de facto beyond a reasonable doubt evidence of speeding, does that mean that anytime an officer says a car was speeding, any police vehicle stop is legitimate?
When pulling over a car for any reason, a police officer must have articulable suspicion that some law is being broken for stopping the vehicle. This comes up all the time in drunk driving cases and other criminal traffic offenses like driving on a suspended license. If the officer didn’t have a clearly valid reason for stopping the car, then any evidence obtained after the fact: be it an intoxicated driver, or drugs in the car, is inadmissible.
But suddenly that standard can be the officer’s opinion that the car was speeding, with no other supporting evidence. This sounds like a questionable decision that could have significant implications for traffic stops and criminal charges across Ohio.
(Via balloon juice)