9/20/2019Delaware Court: No Appeal For Red Light Camera Ticket Because Fine Too Small
Delaware court denies appeal of a $172 red light camera ticket because only fines over $100 can be appealed.
Recipients of red light camera tickets in Delaware cannot challenge the citation in court because the $172 fine is worth less than $100 by the reckoning of the Delaware Superior Court. Judge Abigail M. LeGrow last month denied the appeal of Stanley C. Lowicki, whose car was photographed by a red light camera while allegedly traveling through a red light at the intersection of Route 72 at Kenmore Drive on May 18, 2017.
Because he was not actually behind the wheel at the time of the alleged infraction, Lowicki challenged the citation before the local Justice of the Peace Court. The justice of the peace was not interested in his arguments and imposed the full $172 fine, which Lowicki appealed to the Court of Common Pleas. That court declined to consider the case since it is only able to hear appeals for "civil penalties" that exceed $100.
The Common Pleas Court insisted that the fine amount was just $75, but nearly $100 was added in fees and surcharges, bringing the total to $172. The court costs were $25, the court security fee was $10, the Transportation Trust Fund tax was $37, the State Police Fund tax was $7.50, the Local Law Enforcement Fund tax was $7.50 and the Ambulance Fund was $10.
Lowicki then took up the matter with the state Superior Court, which agreed with the lower court that the mandatory contributions to various funds did not constitute a part of the "civil penalty" under state law.
"I agree with the lower court's analysis," Judge Abigail M. LeGrow ruled. "I also agree with the state that the additional fees imposed for the various 'funds' were required by statute."
Even though the red light camera statute expressly prohibits assessing court costs and assessments beyond those specified in the code, Judge LeGrow insisted a newer statute imposing the fees overrides the photo ticketing law. The judge also pointed out that the law refers to the police fund and the ambulance fund as "penalties" but the transportation tax is a "surcharge." Adding up just the items labeled as penalties does not add up to more than $100.
A copy of the ruling is available in a 400k PDF file at the source link below.