Government

What's at stake with Iowa Supreme Court traffic camera case

Court case should not be confused with bills in the Legislature

(File photo) Traffic moves though the I-380 S-curve in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
(File photo) Traffic moves though the I-380 S-curve in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

The Iowa Supreme Court is scheduled next month to hear oral arguments in the case over automated traffic enforcement cameras in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Muscatine vs. the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The Polk County District Court ruled last April that the Iowa DOT had authority over placement of the cameras, and the agency had ordered several of them turned off or moved. The cities then appealed.

This case is not to be confused with two competing pieces of legislation in the Iowa Legislature, one to ban the cameras and the other to regulate them.

What is the best-case scenario before the court for the Cedar Rapids city government?

The state Supreme Court reverses the lower court ruling, giving cities latitude over selecting where to place speed cameras within their boundaries, said Gary Dickey Jr., a lawyer and managing member of the Dickey & Campbell Law Firm in Des Moines who has been following the case.

What is the best case scenario for those opposed to traffic cameras?

The court upholds the lower court’s ruling affirming the authority of the Iowa DOT, which had ordered nine of the 34 cameras on primary highways or interstates in the state moved or turned off.

What else is possible?

The court could order the case back to the lower court for more fact finding, or the court could order the Iowa DOT to redo its rulemaking process, Dickey said.

Would the traffic cameras be banned as a result of the case?

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“No, this isn’t a case about banning traffic cameras, this is a case about jurisdiction, and which unit of government should be regulating the location of cameras,” Dickey said.

But the Legislature could ban the cameras.

If the cities lose the court case, will it trigger a refund for people who’ve already paid their tickets?

It is unlikely the court would include that in its ruling, Dickey said. The case is not about aggrieved drivers but rather jurisdiction, he said. A motorist who received and paid a ticket, could use the ruling as the basis for a lawsuit seeking a refund, but there are no guarantees of a refund, he said.

“The cities might have some kind of immunity,” Dickey said. “Even if they were wrong, were they unreasonably wrong?”

Would red-light cameras be affected?

Not in Cedar Rapids, where this is no dispute over their placement with the Iowa DOT. However, only a fraction — 1.3 percent — of the 124,346 tickets issued in the most recent reported year came from the three red-light camera locations, which are at 10th Street and First Avenue E, L Street and First Avenue W and Williams Bouvard and 16th Avenue SW.

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

MORE Government ARTICLES TO READ NEXT ...

DES MOINES - The leader of the Iowa Finance Authority for years made lurid comments to women in the office, rebuffing warnings and instead escalating a climate of fear with inappropriate gestures and touching, according to a redac ...

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump's physician Ronny Jackson withdrew on Thursday from consideration to head the Department of Veterans Affairs after allegations about misconduct mounted and a Senate panel postponed his conf ...

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.