Delaware Supreme Court Denies Due Process To Photo Ticket Recipients

Motorists who receive unjust speed camera or red light camera fines in Delaware have no recourse beyond hearing in the Justice of the Peace Court. That was the conclusion the state Supreme Court reached last week in rejecting the appeal of Stanley C. Lowicki, recipient of a $172.50 bill mailed by a private, for-profit vendor. The high court pointed to a state law that only allows the challenging of civil traffic fines that are over $100.

“A person found responsible for a civil traffic offense shall have a right of appeal only in those cases in which the civil penalty imposed exceeds $100,” Delaware Code Section 4101 states.

To avoid allowing court challenges, officials take the $172.50 collected for each ticket and designate the cash according to the following uses: $25 for court costs, $10 for court security fees, $37.50 for the transportation trust fund, $7.50 for the state police, $7.50 for local law enforcement, $10 for the ambulance fund — leaving $75 for the amount labeled “fine.” Lowicki argued that the whole cost of $172.50 was the “civil penalty” referenced in state law.

The law authorizing traffic cameras also states that the civil assessment is “not to exceed $110” for a fine paid on time. It also states that court costs and administrative fees may not exceed $35, and that no assessments “other than those specified” may be imposed.