A man in Oregon fascinated with red-light cameras was fined $500 by a state agency after sending them ideas about the timing for traffic lights.
Mats Järlström, who has a degree in electrical engineering from his native country of Sweden, became intrigued by traffic-light timing four years ago after his wife got a ticket thanks to a red-light camera. The Beaverton, Oregon, resident researched and analyzed the formula behind traffic lights and sent his calculations to a state agency — only to be hit with a $500 fine for doing the math without having an engineering license.
Attorney Sam Gedge of the Institute for Justice, who is representing Järlström, joined Monday’s “The Morning Blaze with Doc Thompson” to talk about First Amendment rights and censorship in Oregon.
“[Järlström] was and is a private citizen who is interested in traffic lights,” Gedge explained. “Like any concerned citizen, he wanted to share his ideas publicly.”
Doc Thompson couldn’t believe that someone could be fined for having ideas: “This is like a joke.”
The way Oregon law is currently written, being an “unlicensed engineer” encompasses even talking about engineering, the attorney explained.
“What we don’t want is the government censoring people who have new ideas and want to talk about it,” Gedge said.