If you've been pinged with a red-light or speed camera ticket since 2003, you could soon be owed a refund. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a ruling out of the Cook County Circuit Court on Friday found that Chicago denied due process to motorists who were ticketed by the automated cameras, and that those tickets are now void.
If upheld, the decision would be a near critical blow to the controversial program that's cost Chicagoans millions of dollars over the past decade. It isn't the first time the city's gotten into hot water over the way it's handled the red-light and speed camera programs. Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office sued the city's former red-light camera operator, claiming the whole program stemmed from a bribery scandal under Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration. An investigation by the Tribune also found that the city was guilty of shortening yellow light times at red light camera intersections. Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson later argued that the city never shortened yellow light times, it merely changed the standards for ticketing—a completely legal decision made in the name of public safety, according to StreetsBlog Chicago.
All told, the program has been a mess since it launched, and Friday's court case could be a near-knockout blow. The Sun-Times reports that the plaintiffs' lawyer is going to request a class action lawsuit for motorists who were unjustly ticketed since the red light cameras first launched. They're also seeking an injunction that would temporarily stop the city from enforcing outstanding red light and speed camera tickets.
This comes at a time when the city is strapped for cash and desperate for revenue to pay off massive, state-mandated pensions that it's on the hook for. But it looks like this gravy train could be coming to a screeching halt.
This post was edited to include additional information about the city's modification of yellow light times.