Chicago issues over 1M parking tickets in 6 months

Chicago issues over 1M parking tickets in 6 months

Three years after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot campaigned on a pledge to reduce fines and fees, the city issued over 1 million parking tickets in the first half of 2022 – a 25% bump from the same period a year earlier.

Chicago sent over 1 million parking tickets to drivers in the first six months of 2022, a quarter more fines than the city issued during the same period in 2021.

Chicago drivers received 1,073,919 tickets by June 30, 2022, compared with 853,906 the prior year. The downtown and River North areas experienced the worst of the uptick, with the number of parking tickets increasing by 31%.

Booting rates declined 12.6% during the same period – from 27,656 clamps on cars in 2021 to 24,158 this year. City data shows boots are most likely found in the area near O’Hare International Airport.

While some city council members championed the increase in loading zone, tow zone and traffic lane violation tickets as progress toward deterring dangerous driving behaviors, the practice contradicts Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign pledge to reduce the city’s dependence on fines and fees.

Lightfoot promised to reform Chicago’s history of balancing budgets on the back of low-income residents, claiming she would move “us away from funding our city through an old regressive system.”

“Cook County has the highest [number of] Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings in the country and a huge percentage of those filings relate to debt people owe to the city of Chicago,” Lightfoot said in 2019. “We are working hard to make sure that we relieve that burden and give people their cars back and give them an opportunity to participate in the economy.”

But Ald. Jeanette Taylor said her 2oth Ward residents are essentially taxed twice as city workers and also employees of Chicago Parking Meters LLC crack down on parking violations.

“We’ll see the Department of Finance come out, and then, the very next day, folks with the green shirts [from Chicago Parking Meters LLC] are doing the same exact thing on the same exact block,” Taylor said.  “So, it seems like our folks are getting taxed doubly.”

Taylor’s South Side ward reported 14,642 parking citations and 781 cars booted by June 30, 2022, on track to surpass 2021 ticket totals by the end of the year.

These parking violations can cost drivers between $25 and $500 per infraction, with most fines doubling if paid late.

Parking fines and vehicle boots are among the numerous regressive fees still imposed on Chicagoans by the city, alongside speed camera tickets, red-light camera tickets and vehicle stickers requirements. Experts have concluded these fees disproportionately impact low-income and minority drivers, leading to spiraling debt.

An Illinois Policy Institute investigation found despite issuing over 1 million tickets in the first half of 2022, Chicago’s speed cameras have failed to deliver the promised safety improvements – fatalities actually increased. The cameras did deliver a lot of cash: $36 million.

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