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City May Be Forced To Refund Millions In Red Light Camera Fines

By Mae Rice in News on Feb 23, 2016 4:02PM

The city’s red light cameras were installed under shady circumstances, and regularly issue tickets that aren’t legally legitimate.

Now, they have officially achieved the trifecta of sucking: Even when the cameras do issue legitimate tickets, the city doesn’t give violators enough notice of their charges, or enough time to contest them, according to a recent verdict from Judge Kathleen Kennedy.

Her verdict, handed down late Friday, spotlighted numerous failings in the city’s system for notifying violators of their tickets and fines, the Sun-Times reports. All told, these systemic problems show “a violation of the fundamental principles of justice, equity and good conscience,” Kennedy wrote.

Kennedy ruled against the city's attempt to dismiss a lawsuit, filed against it by motorists seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds for tickets issued (and improperly handled) since 2003.

The improprieties involved included: The city only notified violators of their traffic infractions once, rather than the municipal-code-mandated twice, before fining them; violators suffered late penalties after 21 days, rather than the legally-mandated 25; and tickets did not specify the make of the vehicle involved in the infraction.

Overall, this amounts to an illegally expedited process, in the judge’s eyes—though the City, unsurprisingly, thinks it’s doing great.

“The plaintiffs do not dispute that they violated the law and that they received notices of these violations. It is the city’s position that the plaintiffs are not entitled to any recovery, let alone any refunds,” Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey wrote in an emailed statement, according to the Sun-Times.