- Associated Press - Thursday, November 26, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - State lawmakers are trying to prevent some Ohio villages from accepting direct payments for traffic-related violations.

A one-person police department in the suburban Columbus village of Brice has been aggressively ticketing motorists even though it lost its mayor’s court and dispatching services from the Franklin County sheriff. The village created a civil-violations system after lawmakers abolished mayor’s courts for small villages.

Brice, a village of 114 people, has issued thousands of tickets and has been accepting payments directly. Those wanting to challenge the citations have to go through a process similar to a mayor’s court.

“They’re pulling people over and basically asking them to get their credit card out and pay this fine to the village, and if not, we’re going to turn you over to a credit bureau,” said Chief Deputy Jim Gilbert of the sheriff’s office. “That does not align with our profession. We don’t pull people over for speeding to just try to take their money.”

Lawmakers from Columbus and Grove City have crafted a bill that would eliminate those direct payments and give jurisdiction over traffic-related violations to municipal or county courts, The Columbus Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/1HgpVMQ) on Sunday. The bill would exempt traffic-camera cases from their jurisdiction though, and would prohibit those villages from fining more than what is allowed by the municipal court.

Figures compiled by Lori Tyack, the Franklin County municipal clerk of courts, show that Brice had created fines for some traffic violations amounting to up to $750. The base fine under state or Columbus law is $97.

Brice Mayor Amy Evans did not return a message seeking comment.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, https://www.dispatch.com

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