130th Ohio General Assembly
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(123rd General Assembly)
(Amended Substitute Senate Bill Number 207)



AN ACT
To amend sections 5589.21, 5589.24, and 5589.99 and to enact sections 307.203, 5589.20, and 5589.211 of the Revised Code to increase from a minor misdemeanor to a misdemeanor of the first degree the offense of obstruction of a street, road, or highway by a railroad; to establish a fine of $1,000 that must be imposed for such an offense; to create the offense of obstructing a public street, road, or highway by abandoning a locomotive and to establish a fine of $5,000 that must be imposed for such an offense; to require that fines for any such violation be paid to the county or municipal corporation in which the violation occurred; to specify that each county or municipal corporation within which an instance of obstruction of a public street, road, or highway occurs that is not caused by the abandonment of a locomotive may charge the railroad company with only one violation arising from that instance; and generally to require the fines to be used for railroad highway grade crossing improvements.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio:

SECTION 1 .  That sections 5589.21, 5589.24, and 5589.99 be amended and sections 307.203, 5589.20, and 5589.211 of the Revised Code be enacted to read as follows:

Sec. 307.203.  A board of county commissioners may appropriate moneys from the general fund for any purposes for which moneyS in the railroad grade crossing improvement fund of the county created pursuant to section 5589.24 of the Revised Code may be used. after appropriation, such moneys may be transferred to that fund.

Sec. 5589.20.  The General Assembly finds that the improper obstruction of railroad grade crossings by trains is a direct threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of this state inasmuch as improper obstructions create uniquely different local safety problems by preventing the timely movement of ambulances, the vehicles of law enforcement officers and firefighters, and official and unofficial vehicles transporting health care officials and professionals. It is the intent of the general assembly in amending sections 5589.21, 5589.24, and 5589.99 of the Revised Code that the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of this state be enhanced through those amendments.

Sec. 5589.21.  (A) No railroad company shall obstruct, or permit or cause to be obstructed a public street, road, or highway, by permitting a railroad car, locomotive, or other obstruction to remain upon or across it for longer than five minutes, to the hindrance or inconvenience of travelers or a person passing along or upon such street, road, or highway. No railroad company shall fail, at

(B) At the end of each five minute period of obstruction of a public street, road, or highway, to each railroad company shall cause such railroad car, locomotive, or other obstruction to be removed for sufficient time, not less than three minutes, to allow the passage of persons and vehicles waiting to cross.

(C) This section does not apply to obstruction of a public street, road, or highway by a continuously moving through train or caused by circumstances wholly beyond the control of the railroad company, but does apply to other obstructions, including without limitation those caused by stopped trains and trains engaged in switching, loading, or unloading operations.

(D) If a railroad car, locomotive, or other obstruction is obstructing a public street, road, or highway in violation of division (A) of this section and the violation occurs in the unincorporated area of one or more counties, or in one or more municipal corporations, the officers and employees of each affected county or municipal corporation may charge the railroad company with only one violation of the law arising from the same facts and circumstances and the same act.

(E) Upon the filing of an affidavit or complaint for violation of division (A) of this section, summons shall be issued to the railroad company pursuant to division (B) of section 2935.10 of the Revised Code, which summons shall be served on the regular ticket or freight agent of the company in the county where the offense occurred.

Sec. 5589.211.  No railroad company shall obstruct, or permit or cause to be obstructed, a public street, road, or highway, by permitting any part of a train whose crew has abandoned the locomotive to remain across it for longer than five minutes to the hindrance or inconvenience of travelers or a person passing along or upon the street, road, or highway, unless the safety of the train crew requires them to abandon the locomotive.

Upon the filing of an affidavit or complaint for violation of this section, summons shall be issued to the railroad company pursuant to division (B) of section 2935.10 of the Revised Code, which summons shall be served on the regular ticket or freight agent of the company in the county where the offense occurred.

Sec. 5589.24.  (A) All penalties fines collected under for a violation of division (A) of section 5589.21 or 5589.211 of the Revised Code shall be paid to the township clerk of the township in which the offense was committed, and be applied by the board of township trustees to the improvement of roads and highways in such township as follows:

(1) To the railroad grade crossing improvement fund of the county if the violation occurred in an unincorporated area of the county;

(2) To the railroad grade crossing improvement fund of the municipal corporation in which the violation occurred if the violation occurred in a municipal corporation.

(B) The board of county commissioners of each county and the legislative authority of each municipal corporation shall establish a railroad grade crossing improvement fund. The fund shall consist of fines paid to the county or municipal corporation under division (A) of this section and any other moneys allocated to the fund by the county or municipal corporation. Except as otherwise provided in this division, A county or municipal corporation shall use its railroad grade crossing improvement fund to pay any part of the cost assigned by the public utilities commission to the county or municipal corporation under section 4907.471 of the Revised Code. The county or municipal corporation also may use its railroad grade crossing improvement fund for other improvements to railroad grade crossings, including signs, signals, gates, or other protective devices, as the board of county commissioners or legislative authority of a municipal corporation determines to be appropriate.

if, during any fiscal year, the fines a county collects for violations of division (A) of section 5589.21 and section 5589.211 of the Revised Code equal three thousand dollars or less, during the subsequent fiscal year the county may use that amount of MONEY in its railroad grade crossing improvement fund for any purpose that the board of county commissioners determines to be appropriate.

If, during any fiscal year, the fines a county collects for violations of division (A) of section 5589.21 and section 5589.211 of the Revised Code exceed three thousand dollars, during the subsequent two fiscal years the county shall use all the money in its railroad grade crossing improvement fund only for those purposes described in this division. In such a case, the amount of money the county collects for violations of division (A) of section 5589.21 and section 5589.211 of the Revised Code during the fiscal year immediately following the second of those two fiscal years shall determine the disposition under this division of the money the county collects during that fiscal year.

Sec. 5589.99.  (A) Whoever violates section 5589.01 of the Revised Code is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

(B) Whoever violates section 5589.02, 5589.03, 5589.05, 5589.06, 5589.08, 5589.081, 5589.09, 5589.11, 5589.12, 5589.21, 5589.32, or 5589.33 of the Revised Code is guilty of a minor misdemeanor.

(C) Whoever violates section 5589.07 or 5589.10 of the Revised Code is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.

(D) Whoever violates division (A) of section 5589.21 of the Revised Code is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree and shall be fined one THOUSAND dollars.

(E) Whoever violates section 5589.211 of the Revised Code is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree and shall be fined five thousand dollars.

SECTION 2 .  That existing sections 5589.21, 5589.24, and 5589.99 of the Revised Code are hereby repealed.

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