How to claim a refund for your Chicago red-light or speed camera ticket
Those seeking refunds only have until Dec. 11 to file a claim.
Roughly 1.2 million motorists who’ve fallen prey to Chicago’s infamous red-light and speed cameras can now see whether they’re eligible for a refund of their tickets by going to the city’s website.
Ticketed drivers can search for their tickets by license plate, ticket number, driver’s license, notice number or vehicle identification number on the parking and automated camera ticket page of the city of Chicago’s website. Using the notice number or ticket number, motorists can then submit their claims online.
However, time is of the essence as qualified drivers only have until Dec. 11 to file a claim. Payouts to ticketed drivers will start in August 2018.
Not everyone who has been issued a ticket is eligible for a refund. But an estimated 1.2 million motorists who were ticketed between March 23, 2010, and May 17, 2015, and who did not respond to initial notices before receiving a determination of liability and late fees, are eligible to receive money back from the city.
But those drivers won’t necessarily be receiving full-blown refunds. The city will be paying up to half of what ticketed motorists had to pay from a fund of $26.75 million, and will forgive up to $12 million in unpaid debt, according to NBC 5 Chicago.
The ticket repayments are the result of a $38.75 million settlement stemming from class-action lawsuits filed against the city of Chicago for its allegedly illegal red-light and speed camera violation procedures. The original lawsuit contended that the city had broken its own rules by failing to give second violation notices before issuing liability determinations, failing to specify makes of vehicles, and charging late fees 21 days after the determined liability, instead of the required 25-day period.
The settlement is a pittance compared with what Chicago has taken in from its red-light camera programs.
From 2011 to 2015 alone, the city raked in nearly $285 million from red-light cameras. The idea has proved so lucrative that Chicago-area suburbs have installed their own red-light cameras. ABC 7 and the Chicago Sun-Times estimated that Chicago suburbs took in nearly $170 million from 2014 through 2016.
And where the red-light cameras are going, lawsuits aren’t far behind.
Three ticketed motorists and anti-red-light camera group Abolish Red Light Cameras are taking the Cook County village of Crestwood to court in a class-action lawsuit. That lawsuit is seeking to wipe away 56,000 tickets issued based on red-light camera footage at an intersection the lawsuit alleges is unfair to motorists. Specifically, the lawsuit says stoplights are not visible to drivers taking the right-hand turning lane. The tickets have made Crestwood an estimated $3.1 million.
It’s also worth mentioning that a preponderance of independent studies into red-light cameras show they don’t really reduce the number of car crashes at controlled intersections.
Lawsuit or no, red-light cameras remain a very lucrative way for Chicago and the suburbs to make revenue at the expense of motorists without reducing crashes.