Oregon Violated Rights of Man Who Challenged Timing of Traffic Lights

State attorney general reportedly rules in favor of resident who claimed in a suit that state board engaged in an 'unconstitutional ban on mathematical debate.'

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Oregon's attorney general this week reportedly acknowledged that the state had violated the free speech rights of a resident and frequent critic of traffic-light timing. 

Mats Jarlsrom, a Swedish-born electronics engineer, found himself in a running battle with the state as he repeatedly challenged the timing of yellow traffic lights as not long enough, according to the Oregonian

The dispute began after Jarlsrom's spouse received a ticket for running a red light in the mail in 2013, and he decided to do his own research, finding the yellow light to be too short, the newspaper said. Jarlsrom, a resident of Beaverton, Oregon, shared his results with local media, the CBS network show, "60 Minutes" and to the yearly gathering of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

A state board fined Jarlsrom $500 for "unlicensed practice of engineering" after he called himself an engineer in emailing city officials and the Washington County sheriff about the traffic light signal timing.

In a suit filed in April, Jarlsrom, who is self-employed as a tester of audio products, claimed not letting anyone use the word "engineer" unless they were licensed in Oregon amounted to an "unconstitutional ban on mathematical debate."

A senior assistant attorney general on Monday told a federal court that the state's regulation of Jarlsrom under engineering practice law "was not narrowly tailored to any compelling state interests,'' the newspaper report said.