The city of Columbus has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Senate Bill 342, which effectively ends the use of red-light cameras.

The city of Columbus has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Senate Bill 342, which effectively ends the use of red-light cameras.

The lawsuit was filed Friday, March 20, in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, Columbus Public Safety Director George Speaks said.

Columbus joins the cities of Akron, Dayton, Springfield and Toledo, which have filed similar lawsuits in their respective counties.

As of midnight March 23, 38 red-light cameras across the city of Columbus went black. The city will not seek a temporary restraining order, meaning the cameras will be shut down during pending court action, Speaks said.

Speaks said Columbus will argue that S.B. 342, which the legislature passed last year with bipartisan support, violates "home rule" protection in the Ohio Constitution and puts an undue financial burden on the city.

S.B. 342 requires cities and villages to deploy a police cruiser at intersections with red-light cameras, which electronically record people running red lights, resulting in a ticket.

"That is not only absurd and irrational, I believe it's unconstitutional," Speaks said.

There are 44 cameras positioned at 38 Columbus intersections. The law would essentially cost the city at least $11.4 million in police protection at those intersections, Speaks said.

"Why would we ever remove 114 officers from our neighborhoods?" he said.

Last year, the city collected $2.1 million in fines from motorists running red lights. A red-light camera infraction results in a $95 fine. It is considered a civil, not criminal, violation, so no points are assessed to the driver, Speaks said.

And the cameras have been effective since the first ones were installed in 2006, he said. For example, he said, at eastbound Henderson Road at Gettysburg Road in northwest Columbus, there were 5,829 citations issued in 2006 and 551 issued in 2014.

"My first thought is that our stats speak for themselves," he said. "It was an incredibly successful program in that we altered drivers' behavior for the good."

The cameras are not welcomed by all. Voters in Cleveland and Maple Heights rejected the use of red-light cameras in November.

Critics argue they are invasive and cities use them to enhance revenues.