12/13/2017Delaware Judge Denies Right To Appeal Photo Tickets
Delaware court denies the right to appeal a $172 red light camera ticket because the law says the fine is only $100.
Innocent vehicle owners who receive red light camera or speed camera tickets in Delaware have no recourse to challenge their fine in a court of law. New Castle County Court of Common Pleas Judge Sheldon K. Rennie decided last Thursday to deny the appeal of motorist Stanley C. Lowicki, an attorney, who received a photograph of his car from a private red light camera contractor on May 18, 2017.
Lowicki fought the ticket on the grounds that he was not the driver of the vehicle. Following an administrative hearing, he challenged the automated accusation before a justice of the peace, who ultimately sided with the camera and ordered Lowicki to pay $172.
So Lowicki decided to take his appeal to the next level, the court of common pleas, which hears civil matters when the penalty for the case exceeds $100. In this case, the base fine was $75, the court costs were $25 and the court security fee tacked on $10 more. He argued that got him over the $100 threshold, and then the transportation trust fund fee was $37.50, the state police fund was $7.50, the local law enforcement fund added $7.50 and the ambulance fee tacked on $10 more, for a grand total of $172.50.
The state's deputy attorney general argued that Lowicki had no right to appeal because the law only allows access to the common pleas court if the "civil penalty" for a traffic offense exceeds $100. Lowicki argued that the statute refers to "civil or administrative assessment" that encompasses the full $172 amount he was ordered to pay. The court sided instead with the state's interpretation.
"Mr. Lowicki's statutory interpretation is innovative, but is also a misguided attempt to circumvent the plain meaning of Section 4101," Judge Rennie wrote. "Based on a plain reading of Section 4101, the 'civil penalty' does not include court costs or 'similar administrative fees.'"
The judge noted that the language in the law could have been worded more clearly and that this may have caused confusion.
"For the reasons discussed above, Mr. Lowicki's appeal is dimissed with prejudice," Judge Rennie concluded. "The court does not have jurisdiction to hear Mr. Lowicki's appeal. The civil penalty in this case does not exceed $100, as required by 21 Delaware Code Section 4101."
A copy of the ruling is available in a 350k PDF file at the source link below.