(CN) – A Tallahassee, Fla., newspaper has the right to access city records on red-light-camera tickets, a federal judge ruled.
The Tallahassee Democrat sued the city and its red-light-camera vendor in 2011, seeking access to a list of more than 17,000 citations, which included the drivers’ names. Fearing penalties for disclosing information that may be protected under federal law, the city asked the Northern District of Florida to decide whether it could release the citations.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled Monday that traffic-violation notices and the information they contain are public records under state law and must be disclosed.
Hinkle said the city could not use the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act to withhold public records.
The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act prohibits the disclosure of personal information from motor vehicle records, unless it is for law enforcement or public-safety purposes.
Tallahassee and its contractor will have to produce copies of the citation lists by Sept. 10, the judgment states.
Hinkle refused to award attorney fees to the newspaper, finding that the city had acted “prudently in seeking a declaration” on whether releasing the records would violate federal law.