6/11/2014Iowa Court Sides With State Over Speed Camera Regulation
Iowa judge dismisses bulk of Sioux City lawsuit against state speed camera regulations.
Sioux City, Iowa is feeling the heat. Earlier this year the South Dakota legislature enacted a law exempting state residents from out-of-state photo radar tickets based entirely on constituent complaints about Sioux City's speed traps which South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard (R) branded as "abhorrent." On Monday, an Iowa district court judge sided with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R) and his rules designed to curtail Sioux City's excess.
Local officials in Sioux City were so infuriated that the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) would impose limits on the use of speed cameras on state-owned roads that they filed suit in the Woodbury County court to have the state rules tossed out as unconstitutional. The DOT said it would only grant permission for speed camera use if a jurisdiction submitted a comprehensive engineering assessment to prove there is a safety motivation for the use of the devices. The DOT regulations would only grant permission as a last resort after all engineering countermeasures were exhausted. The required, detailed accident history could only consider crashes caused directly by speeding.
The city was most offended that the DOT banned as irresponsible and dangerous the use of mobile speed camera cars parked on the side of the highway. The court sided with the state in dismissing the suit as prematurely filed, as Sioux City failed to use the proper channels to appeal the state regulation.
"The city contends that an email exchange, between counsel for the city and state of Iowa, establishes exhaustion of administrative remedies," Judge James D. Scott ruled. "Without delving into the substance of the exchange, the court rejects the city's contention. Correspondence with one state employee does not negate a party's obligation to exhaust administrative remedies through official agency channels."
Instead of attacking the rule, the city is supposed to file for a permit from the state. If it is denied, then the court can consider whether the state was acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner.
"The record contains no evidence indicating an unwillingness by defendants to consider a request for approval of an automated traffic enforcement system," Judge Scott wrote. "The court finds the available administrative remedies to be adequate."
The court will only allow Sioux City to attempt to prove its allegation that state officials abused the administrative procedures act in crafting the speed camera rules. All other charges were dismissed. A copy of the decision is available in a 200k PDF file at the source link below.