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Drivers to get refunds after traffic cam ruling

Impacts people who got tickets between 2013 and 2016

DES MOINES - If you got a speeding ticket from a traffic camera on I-235, you could be getting your money back.

A judge ruled this week that the City of Des Moines broke its own rules. The new ruling is a huge win for drivers who are against speed cameras like the one near mile marker 4.9 on I-235 Eastbound, where the tickets where administered. The catch is that it will only impact drivers who appealed their speeding tickets.

The ruling was made Tuesday, and it serves as a victory of sorts for Iowa drivers who appealed the $65 tickets they got on I-235. They will be getting their money back.

The ruling made by Judge Lawrence McLellan says the City of Des Moines failed to follow its own policy, by requiring drivers to go through unauthorized hearings to appeal their speeding tickets. James Larew, the lawyer representing those drivers, says Des Moines' administrative hearing process violated their due process rights.

"This kind of policing, photographs taken from behind with cameras that are not frequently, sufficiently calibrated, enforced in a process that citizens feel disenfranchised, that this is not how many citizens want to govern themselves," Larew said.

So what does this mean for you?

If an I-235 speed camera gave you a ticket between 2013 and 2016, you will get your $65 back. But that is only if you appealed your ticket. People who did not pay their tickets yet will not have to fork over that $65 fine. But if you already paid your ticket, you are out of luck.

"We respectfully disagree with the court's decision as to those other claims," Larew said, adding he tried to expand who would be covered by the ruling.

The City of Des Moines released a statement to Local 5 saying, "The City was disappointed with the ruling, given that the basis for the Iowa Court's ruling had already been ruled on in the City's favor by the Federal District Court and the Federal Eighth Circuit court of appeals."

Des Moines officials do not have an exact number of drivers who will be refunded. Larew says that number is more than 1,000 vehicle owners. But the City of Des Moines says the total cost to the city will be less than $80,000.

Larew says the ruling could be far-reaching.

"They're going to have a powerful impact going forward, not only in Des Moines, but in other communities as well," Larew said.

The City of Des Moines has 30 days to file a response to the ruling. And it is not clear yet when the appealed tickets will be paid out. The I-235 traffic cameras are not turned on anymore. But mobile speed units, like those in Windsor Heights, can still give you a ticket.
Local 5 is still working with Des Moines officials to get a list of names or people who will get their money back.


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