When traffic citations are issued, it is usually by a police officer, either local or state. However, in Iowa, more than 20,000 tickets were issued by the Department of Transportation in the past five years. A recent court decision ruled one such ticket illegal. That has opened up a class action lawsuit against the Iowa Department of Transportation. If the court case is successful, it could mean the state must pay back millions of dollars in fines and court fees.
It all started when a 16-year-old driver from Des Moines was issued a speeding ticket by an officer from the Department of Transportation. His family argued in the Polk County District Court that only officers from Iowa’s public safety department can issue tickets for most moving violations. The court agreed and dismissed the case. In the next few weeks, two other drivers with similar speeding tickets filed an injunction against the state to prevent the Department of Transportation from issuing tickets to most non-commercial vehicles. That injunction was recently amended to a class-action lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that Iowa knowingly issued illegal tickets, and cited the Iowa Supreme Court case from 1970 that dictated what powers the DOT does and doesn’t have. Specifically, that case said the DOT has the power to enforce drunk driving laws, as well as regulations regarding registration, size and weight for commercial vehicles. Though the DOT has not argued against the point, they have said they issue tickets for the sake of public safety, not for revenue. However, over the past five years, the DOT has issued about 25,000 tickets, about half of which were to noncommercial vehicles. If the lawsuit is successful, the state may be liable for nearly $2 million in court fees and ticket fines.
If you have been issued a traffic ticket in New York, you have legal options. Contact the attorneys at Feifer & Greenberg today for a free consultation.