Oregon Supreme Court to Rule on Photo Radar

March 7, 2000

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The Oregon Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of traffic tickets issued on the basis of photo radar. State law allows police to send a traffic ticket to the owner of a car or truck photographed in an automated speed trap using radar and a camera.

Portland resident Sara Clay challenged a $35 speeding ticket, arguing that photo radar shifts the burden of proof from the state to the vehicle owner by automatically presuming the owner is guilty. But the state maintains that the constitutional requirement that everyone is presumed innocent until the state proves its case does not apply to traffic tickets. The court agreed to consider the issue after receiving petitions to hear 852 similar cases last year.
If the law is affirmed it will allow law enforcement to expand the program, currently now used only in Portland and nearby Beaverton.
If the justices strike down the law it could be the first such ruling in the nation since states began adopting photo radar laws in the 1980s.

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