Chicago City Council committee votes to repeal tickets for going 6 mph over speed limit

Chicago City Council committee votes to repeal tickets for going 6 mph over speed limit

The Chicago City Council Finance Committee voted 16-15 to repeal Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s policy issuing $35 tickets to motorists going 6 mph over the speed limit. The decision now heads to the full council for a vote June 22.

The Chicago City Council Finance Committee on June 21 narrowly approved a measure that would raise the threshold for speed cameras in a 16-15 vote. 

Under the new ordinance, the minimum threshold for speed camera tickets would increase to 10 mph over the speed limit instead of 6 mph. 

If approved by the full council June 22, the measure would reverse Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s policy ticketing motorists traveling 6 mph to 10 mph over the speed limit. Lightfoot said the decision was all in the name of protecting residents. 

The lower limit led to $59 million in tickets for going 6 to 10 mph over the limit and $89 million total for all speed camera violations in 2021, an Illinois Policy Institute investigation found. The cameras churned out more tickets than the city has residents.

More than 7,000 Chicagoans have signed Illinois Policy’s petition to eliminate the lower ticketing threshold and nearly 500 Chicagoans contacted their alderman directly via Illinois Policy’s Take Action tool in the 24 hours leading up to the vote.

Ald. Anthony Beale, the former head of the city’s transportation committee and a longtime opponent of the mayor’s lower threshold policy, authored the ordinance. 

“The majority of that money is from the backs of people who can least afford it in the black and brown communities,” Beale said. “This entire program is again built off of corruption.”

Even after ticketing motorists going 6 mph over the speed limit, fatal crashes in Chicago still increased in 2021. 

Chicago speed cameras disproportionally hit low-income communities on the South Side. Two of the three most lucrative speed cameras are in low-income communities, bringing in more than $3 million apiece.

The committee was originally scheduled to vote on the measure June 16, but Ald. Scott Waguespack, who chairs the committee, called a surprise recess when it appeared enough members would vote to repeal the 6 mph threshold. 

Lightfoot urged members to vote against Beale’s ordinance.

“The Committee on Finance is poised to allow increased speeds near schools and parks citywide,” Lightfoot wrote in a statement. “I urge members of the City Council to vote no on this dangerous ordinance.”

School zone speed limits wouldn’t change under the ordinance, only the minimum threshold to ticket drivers. 

In 2019, Lightfoot promised to kick the City’s “addiction” to fines and fees. 

Chicago’s revenue chasing stems from unfunded pensions. The city holds more pension debt than 45 states. Reverting back to the 10-mph threshold would nudge lawmakers back to the elephant in the room: pension reform. 

The full City Council could vote to repeal this policy as soon as June 22. Chicagoans can use Illinois Policy's Take Action tool to tell their alderman to vote to end automated speeding tickets for driving 6 to 10mph over the limit.

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