Oregon fines man $500 because he used math to criticize red light cameras without having an engineering license


Oregon Man Claims State Muzzles Red Light Camera Critique

April 26, 2017

An Oregon man’s public criticism of the mathematical formula used by red light cameras got him in trouble — not with the police but with the state engineering board.

So he’s suing, claiming a violation of free speech.

After his wife got a ticket based on a red light camera in Beaverton, Oregon, Mats Järlström, a Swedish-born electronics engineer, studied the calculations used to determine the length of the yellow light cycle. He concluded it was too short, because it failed to account for the longer time a driver needed to turn a corner, rather than go straight through the intersection.

Convinced the cameras were using an out-of-date formula, he took his message to practically anyone who would listen — local TV stations, a conference of traffic engineers, and even the state board of engineer examiners.

That’s what got him in trouble.

The board fined him $500 and said he was violating a state law by speaking about engineering issues without a license.

“By providing the public with his traffic engineering calculations,” the board said, “Järlström engaged in the practice of engineering.” And since he didn’t have a license issued by the state, he was violating the law, it said.

Now he’s suing in federal court, accusing the state of violating his First Amendment right to speak about a public issue.

“Criticizing the government’s engineering isn’t a crime. It’s a constitutional right,” said Samuel Gedge of the Institute for Justice, a conservative public interest law firm representing Järlström. “You don’t need to be a licensed engineer to talk about traffic lights.”

As many states do, Oregon prohibits a person from practicing engineering without a license. But the state’s board of engineering examiners equates publicly talking about engineering issues with practicing engineering.

“I was fined simply for speaking out and was told that I can’t truthfully call myself an engineer. People should be free to debate any topic, including technical topics like math and traffic lights,” Järlström said.

A spokesman for the state engineering board had no comment on the lawsuit, and the state has not yet responded in court.

Järlström paid the $500 fine. But he isn’t suing to get his money back.

Another Institute for Justice lawyer on his legal team, Wesley Hottot, said the state is essentially requiring a permission slip to debate government policy. “This board and licensing boards across the country think the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them. They couldn’t be more wrong.”

April 28, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Math, Police state.


  1. BGills replied:

    This is exactly how ‘Man made climate change’ proponents wish to silence criticism of their cause…

    Policy decisions are deemed ‘settled-science’ by the Left, and they fully intend to protect their revenue streams by silencing debate with punitive regulation of free-speech.

    If you don’t have the credentials to question their particular form of wisdom, your publicly ridiculed, and some have even suggested imprisonment for anyone who dares to disagree with the wisdom of the Left. If you do happen to have the credentials to present an informed opinion, or competent argument… “Show us your permit!” Permission granted by policy makers, to question their indisputable claims in public?
    “No permit? Pay the clerk, or go to jail.

    Clearly the free-speech/thought police, are out in full force, and they’re goal is to silence all who would dare disagree with them. Free-speech for me, but none for thee. (This is not what the funding Fathers meant when they noted ‘Free-Speech’ comes at a price.)

    If the actual intended purpose of ‘Red-Light cameras’ was truly public safety, you’d think every effort would be made to explore how the timing of traffic lights which might actually save lives, instead their only concern is driving revenue. (Red-Light cameras have been sighted at accident scenes as the cause of numerous rear-end collisions, from people jamming on their brakes when they see a yellow light)

    A Republican Lawmaker in Florida objected to money generated by these cameras being pumped into the general fund, and suggested a Bill requiring all funds generated by them be used for traffic safety purposes, driver education, etc… Dems cried bloody murder at the audacity of such an idea, thereby revealing the true nature of these cameras… REVENUE! Safety was purely ancillary, while greed was clearly their primary purpose.

  2. wqrtg4 replied:

    “practicing engineering without a license”-they struck the nail in the head with this law-are they “engineers”? yes,they are-social engineers….worst than a drill seargeant because they are not seargeants to civilians..

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