A federal judge has ruled that the Oregon Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying violated the First Amendment when it tried to fine Mats Järlström—an Oregonian with a degree in engineering and years of experience in the field—for describing himself as “an engineer.”
In a ruling issued Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman issued a permanent injunction against the board’s enforcement of the relevant rules, which had included trying to fine Järlström $500 for describing himself as an engineer in a non-professional context.
Järlström got on the board’s bad side because he tried to challenge a traffic ticket given to his wife by a red light camera in Beaverton, Oregon, in 2013. He challenged the ticket by questioning the timing of the yellow lights at intersections where the cameras had been installed, using knowledge from his degree in electrical engineering and his experience working as an airplane camera mechanic in the Swedish Air Force. His research landed him in the media spotlight—in 2014, he presented his evidence on an episode of 60 Minutes—and earned him an invitation to present his findings at an annual meeting of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, a trade group.