Last day for refunds on Chicago red-light and speed camera tickets
Motorists have only hours left to seek a refund from the city of Chicago.
Dec. 11 is the last day for more than 1 million motorists who were ticketed by the city of Chicago to claim a refund for a red-light or speed camera citation issued between March 23, 2010, and May 17, 2015.
As part of a legal settlement reached in July, roughly 1.2 million motorists who’ve fallen prey to Chicago’s infamous red-light and speed cameras can now apply for a refund of some of the money they paid on their tickets by going to the city’s website, according to NBC 5 Chicago.
Ticketed drivers can search for their tickets by license plate, ticket number, driver’s license number, 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.
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, according to NBC 5 Chicago.
But those drivers won’t necessarily receive full refunds. NBC 5 Chicago has reported that the city will pay up to half of what ticketed motorists paid from a fund of $26.75 million, and will forgive up to $12 million in unpaid debt.
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, the city raked in nearly $285 million from red-light cameras, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times. 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 red-light cameras go, lawsuits often follow.
Three ticketed drivers and anti-red-light camera group Abolish Red Light Cameras filed a class-action lawsuit against the Cook County village of Crestwood in October, according to a report by ABC 7. The plaintiffs were seeking to wipe out 56,000 tickets issued based on red-light camera footage at an intersection the litigants have alleged is unfair to motorists.
Specifically, the plaintiffs have alleged the stoplights are not visible to drivers taking the right-hand turning lane. The tickets have made Crestwood an estimated $3.1 million, according to the statement by an attorney for the plaintiffs, reported by ABC 7.
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, according to the National Motorists Association.
Lawsuit or no, red-light cameras remain a lucrative way for Chicago and the suburbs to increase revenues at the expense of drivers, with little evidence of reduced crashes.