As more and more communities around the country continue to install cameras at intersections and other areas of traffic concern, a Cook County judge has found major problems with the program in Chicago. The city is now facing the possibility of being forced to refund millions of dollars collected in fines from motorists who were ticketed as a result of being caught on camera.
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed almost a year ago by three named plaintiffs, alleging that the city violated its own municipal codes in the process of ticketing and collecting fines related to red-light and speed-cameras. By violating the city code, Judge Kathleen Kennedy ruled, ticketed motorists were denied due process and the proper ability to contest their issued citations.
No Second Notice
When a vehicle is caught breaking the law by a red-light camera or speed camera, the city is supposed to send a Notice of Violation to the registered owner of the vehicle. According to Chicago city code, if the owner fails to respond, a second notice is to be sent to the vehicle owner prior to the determination of liability—which is essentially a default judgment of guilt. The lawsuit against the city, however, indicates that second notices are not being sent to motorists and the liability determinations are being made too quickly. Attorneys for the claimants maintain that the second notice is a necessary step in the process to ensure a suspected violator’s right to contest the citation prior to being found financially liable. The suit further claims that late fees are being applied to fines inappropriately, failing to adhere to the timeframes and grace periods provided in the law.
Rejected Motion to Dismiss
While there has been no final verdict in the lawsuit yet, last week’s ruling was issued by Judge Kennedy in regard to the city’s motion to dismiss the case. She rejected the motion, harshly indicating that she believes that Chicago is consistently violating “fundamental principles of justice, equity, and good conscience” in its handling of camera-related violations. In addition, she declared all such tickets to be void, as the lawsuit continues. Her choice of such strong words has led many to believe that the already-financially struggling city will, most likely, be required to refund the fines and fees paid by thousands of motorists.
If you have received a Notice of Violation related to a speed-camera or red-light camera, you may be unsure of what to do next, especially in light of last week’s ruling. For more information, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney. At the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba, we understand the law and we will work hard to protect your rights every step of the way. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free initial consultation today.