Oregon man fined $500 for challenging red light cameras

A red light photo enforcement sign is seen below a red light camera Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, in Lawrence Township, N.J. By midnight Tuesday, cameras that have recorded hundreds of thousands of red light violations in two dozen towns are scheduled to go dark as the much-scrutinized pilot program comes to an end after five years filled with controversy.(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

So apparently publicly questioning the logic of Oregon’s red light camera systems can get you in some hot water with the Beaver State. One would think that under the first amendment, we as citizens are protected and allowed to question anything we feel is unjust in our country. While reading this made me angry, I sadly was not surprised to see the way things work these days.

The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying has fined an Oregon resident, Mats Järlström, $500 for publicly criticizing the standard formula used to time yellow traffic lights. It all started with Järlström’s wife getting ticketed for a red light. He then decided to write the State Board, and speak publicly about concerns over the legitimacy of the system’s timing. In response, the board slapped him with the fine for “unlicensed practice of engineering” because he was “engaging in mathematical criticism” of the system, according to the Institute of Justice.

It all started with Järlström’s wife getting ticketed for a red light. He then decided to write the State Board, and speak publicly about concerns over the legitimacy of the system’s timing. Instead of hearing him out, the board slapped Mats with the fine for “unlicensed practice of engineering” because he was “engaging in mathematical criticism” of the system, according to the Institute of Justice.

In fact, there are many cities and states which have recently come under fire for possibly manipulating the timing of the yellow lights. Unbelievably, in some cases, they have been caught shortening them. The automated system has generated massive revenue for many municipalities. In this case specifically, the Institute for Justice is backing Mats Järlström and his lawsuit which exists to fight for the right to question this obviously very questionable system.

“Criticizing the government’s engineering isn’t a crime; it’s a constitutional right,” said Sam Gedge, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, which represents Mats in the lawsuit. “Under the First Amendment, you don’t need to be a licensed lawyer to write an article critical of a Supreme Court decision, you don’t need to be a licensed landscape architect to create a gardening blog, and you don’t need to be a licensed engineer to talk about traffic lights. Whether or not you use math, criticizing the government is a core constitutional right that cannot be hampered by onerous licensing requirements.”

h/t thedrive

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3 COMMENTS

  1. This email went to that Board and its executives.

    To All the OSBEELS Executives:
    The Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying is desperately trying to protect the ability of their engineers to deliberately set too-short of yellow intervals at traffic lights so the cities that employ those engineers can rob safe drivers with red light camera fines that are very profitable. If Mr. Jarlstrom can get a discussion of why the yellows are often set too short into the official records, then the money grab racketeering with too-short of yellow intervals might have to be shut down in Oregon.

    In reality, any engineer that sets too-short of yellow intervals on the lights at camera intersections should lose their license to practice.

    Putting camera revenue above safety is criminally wrong.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association