Oregon: Federal Judge Clears Red Light Camera Critic

A federal judge on Friday rolled back the power of a state board that attempted to use occupational licensing laws to silence a red light camera critic. US Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman stripped the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying’s power to punish engineers who call themselves “engineers” without first paying $400 to register with the state.

Engineer Mats Jarlstrom kicked off the controversy when he sent an email criticizing the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) formula that, he argued, produces dangerously short yellow times while also increasing profit for red light cameras. The board fought back by imposing a $500 fine on Jarlstrom for the crime of practicing engineering without a license. Jarlstrom filed an appeal, and after a series of preliminary orders in Jarlstrom’s favor, the court on Friday issued a permanent order blocking the board from interfering with free speech.

“Jarlstrom may study, communicate publicly about, and communicate privately about, his theories relating to traffic lights as long as plaintiff Jarlstrom’s communications occur outside the context of an employment or contractual relationship,” Judge Beckerman ruled.