Run Red Light, Pay Green Money
By Matt Wood in Miscellaneous on Oct 30, 2006 4:15PM
Chicagoist once got a speeding ticket in Michigan, and based on the advice of friends, decided to contest it in person under the theory that officers often don't show up to defend the ticket. When our name was called in traffic court, the officer was indeed absent, but instead of throwing out the ticket, the judge said, "Isn't Officer O'Lately around this morning? I thought I saw him," then proceeded to shuffle our case to the bottom of the pile while someone retrieved him. He finally showed up, they laughed in our face, and the judge said we had to pay our fine.
One would think that if they were ticketed by red-light camera instead of a flesh and blood officer, they'd always get off if they contested it in court. Those cameras never show up. But over 90 percent of people who tried to contest red-light camera tickets in court this year failed, according to statistics from the Chicago Department of Revenue. The problem is of course that it's pretty hard to beat photographic evidence of your car running a red light. According to the Sun-Times, only a few defenses work, such as proving your car was stolen at the time.
What's interesting is that people who contested these tickets by mail had a slightly higher rate of success than those how requested a hearing, throwing our whole theory out the window. Those cameras must be more punctual than Michigan troopers after all.