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Chicagoans Owe City $1.5 Billion In Parking, Driving Tickets

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Mar 31, 2015 3:05PM

Chicago's unpaid ticket debts reportedly total a whopping $1.5 billion—nearly double what New Yorkers owe their city in ticket debts—and that debt is accruing by $1 million a week.

Most of the debt comes from unpaid parking tickets, DNAinfo Chicago found, while unpaid tickets from the city's fledgling red-light and speed camera programs has already grown to more than $230 million, two years since the cameras were installed. Since Rahm Emanuel took office in 2011, total ticket debt has gone up 15 percent.

The city's Department of Finance has tried in recent years to help some motorists pay off their tickets with special payment plans but the vast majority of those plans are now in default, DNAinfo says.

How will the city get ticket scofflaws to pony up? Some financial analysts believe Chicago should emulate New York City’s carrot-or-stick approach, by keeping late penalties low, but slapping cars with the dreaded boot much sooner in the process than Chicago's law stipulates.

Other penalties we think might do the trick in Chicago: Force violators to ride the CTA with a faulty Ventra card, Divvy to work while being tailed by a road-raging motorist and have their mailboxes bombarded with campaign mailers until long after the election.