New Changes in Ohio Traffic Rules

Effective January 1, 2010, Ohio has modified some of the rules that effect how traffic citations and traffic court cases can or must proceed. Michael O'Shea is a part-time City Prosecutor for the City of Rocky River, and he recently gave a summary presentation of these amendments to the rules to all of his fellow city prosecutors from other cities in Cuyahoga County. First, the Ohio Uniform Traffic Ticket (the ticket form used by police to write all tickets- even DUI tickets) has been modified to include a place for an officer to write down prior DUI offenses (if it applies), and the ticket no longer will include all portions of the social security number of the defendant (in order to preserve identity information for each defendant).

Second, now a defendant can post bond when a ticket is written, and instead of coming back to court, that bond, with the permission of the defendant, can be applied to pay all fines and costs in the absence of the defendant. In this way, an out of state defendant does not have to travel back to the Ohio court from where the ticket issues. Some parts of the amended rules even allow a defendant to plea, as it is called "in abstentia," even when it comes to DUI offenses - as long as the judge and the prosecutor agree. You may begin to see some police forces and traffic courts require all out-of-the-area traffic defendants to post larger bonds - even for minor traffic offenses.

Third, courts are now permitted to arraign and take pleas from traffic defendants by giving a general speech (in writing or otherwise) to the entire group of defendants in the courtroom - rather than having to essentially give the same speech to each defendant individually. This will allow large number traffic arraignments and pleas to move along much more quickly.

These amendments are designed to address some of the problems that have slowed down the traffic courts for years.