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Red light camera
Photograph: CC/Flickr/Robert Couse-Baker

Chicago is allowing drivers to contest 1.5 million red light camera tickets

Zach Long
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Zach Long
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Earlier this year, the Cook Country Circuit Court found that Chicago denied due process to motorists who were ticketed by automated cameras, triggering a lawsuit that accuses the city of failing to mail out a second notice of violation to ticketed individuals (and then slyly changing the law to eliminate second notices for tickets altogether). In an effort to avoid a costly ruling against the city and lay the groundwork for a possible settlement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel will allow drivers to contest 1.5 million traffic tickets that were issued through the use of red light cameras. The Sun-Times reports that the Mayor's ordinance was approved by city council today, meaning some Chicago motorists will soon have a second chance to fight red light camera tickets.

The move won't necessarily result in a financial windfall for motorists who are allowed to contest their traffic tickets. The notices will give each recipient 30 days to appear before an administrative law judge and prove the ticket was improperly issued. Corporation Counsel Steve Patton explained to the Sun-Times, “Those tickets are valid. The violation occurred. The red light was run. Somebody sped. Unless and until they go the Department of Administrative Hearings and show that’s not the case.”  

Only red light camera tickets issued between March 23, 2010 and May 14, 2015 will be contestable, meaning anyone with a red light camera ticket that dates back to 2003 (when the system was introduced) is out of luck, at least for now. Those who receive a notice and decide to contest the ticket will have to go through the process of presenting proof to a judge—it's difficult to imagine a significant number of people having enough evidence to successfully dispute a traffic ticket that was issued as many as six years ago.

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