If a police officer in the District of Columbia catches you speeding more than 30 mph above the posted limit, you could end up in handcuffs. But if a camera records you blasting along, you'll probably end up with a civil fine.
Two motorists sued the District of Columbia last year over the disparate treatment of speeding offenses, arguing that the city's traffic enforcement policy denies motorists equal protection of law.
The drivers' class action failed in Washington federal district court, and now a federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of the suit. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit yesterday unanimously rejected the class action.
“There is no question that D.C. has a legitimate interest in deterring speeding to ensure public safety,” Senior Circuit Judge Harry Edwards said in the court’s opinion. “Moreover, it is rational for D.C. to conclude that it can best achieve this interest through the combination of individualized, targeted enforcement” that includes officer stops and camera monitoring.
The District’s traffic enforcement policies “neither burden a fundamental right nor target a suspected class,” said Edwards, joined by senior judges A. Raymond Randolph and Douglas Ginsburg.
The appeals court said the District’s “variable enforcement scheme increases the likelihood that speeding motorists will be detected, and, as a result, it serves as a greater deterrent to violations of traffic laws.”