- Associated Press - Monday, August 28, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Another judge has ruled that Iowa Department of Transportation officers didn’t have authority to issue speeding tickets to drivers of noncommercial vehicles.

Scott County District Associate Judge Christine Dalton said in the ruling Wednesday that if officers had the authority to give tickets prior to a law change in May, an amendment wouldn’t have been necessary, The Des Moines Register reported .

The new law, enacted May 17, gave department officers the authority to ticket drivers of noncommercial vehicles until July 2018.

George Wesley Dunbar of Indianola received a speeding ticket from a department officer in August 2016. He filed a lawsuit arguing that the department doesn’t have the authority to issue such citations. A magistrate upheld the decision, which Dunbar appealed.

Dalton dismissed the speeding ticket, saying department officers were “specifically restricted from making traffic stops on noncommercial vehicles. It simply was not within their statutory authority.”

Two other judges have made similar rulings.

Polk County District Court Associate Judge Heather Lauber dismissed a speeding ticket last year against Pleasant Hill teenager Peyton Atzen. Lauber said state law doesn’t allow peace officers who aren’t employed by the state's public safety department from ticketing the drivers of noncommercial vehicles.

Warren County District Court Judge Richard Clogg dismissed a speeding ticket in March issued to Eric Michael Roeder of Norwalk. Clogg said department officers don’t have the enumerated powers to enforce speeding violations on noncommercial vehicles.

Dalton’s ruling comes only weeks before Polk County District Court takes up the broader issue of whether the agency acted illegally before the state law change.

The department could lose millions of dollars in federal money without the authority to ticket drivers of all types of vehicles, state officials said. The department receives $4.2 million in grants from the federal Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, which requires the department engage in traffic enforcement.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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