Wrongful red-light tickets left unexplained as City Hall offers few refunds
Chicago officials announced Wednesday that dozens of drivers will receive refunds from the city for wrongfully issued red-light camera tickets. But thousands more were left in the dark regarding the cause of their tickets and the overall soundness of the city’s red-light camera program, which has been mired in scandal for months. The city reviewed...
Chicago officials announced Wednesday that dozens of drivers will receive refunds from the city for wrongfully issued red-light camera tickets. But thousands more were left in the dark regarding the cause of their tickets and the overall soundness of the city’s red-light camera program, which has been mired in scandal for months.
After sending out 15,885 letters notifying drivers of refund eligibility, the city has conducted 3,097 of 3,285 requests for review. The 126 ticket refunds were announced with no answers regarding the cause of the spikes, which shouldered thousands with $100 fines they should never have had to pay.
The outcome of the city’s review is insulting to lawful city drivers.
Not only have they been denied recompense for fines levied by the error-prone program, but they’re also short an explanation as to the cause of those errors.
David Kidwell and Alex Richards of the Tribune, whose impressive analysis of 4 million tickets issued by the cameras since 2007 forced the hand of Chicago officials, were highly critical of the city’s review:
“The examinations themselves, conducted by an outside auditing firm, were done in private and focused on whether the videotape of the violations showed drivers broke the traffic law. The examiners did not consider whether the camera system was working properly, as an administrative law judge might do in a regular appeal.
“More broadly, the city’s limited focus on potential refunds for a subset of drivers never addressed the fundamental questions about the oversight, reliability and fairness of a program already mired in a federal corruption investigation into allegations the city’s ex-vendor paid $2 million in bribes to get the business.”
They refer to the fact that the company that levied the fines in question, Redflex, is currently under federal investigation for alleged bribes paid to former Chicago transportation bureaucrat John Bills.
While Chicago’s red-light ticket review is finished for now, until the city offers an honest dissection of the deeply flawed program, citizens should be asking for more.
A truly fair outcome in the wake of the city’s gross mismanagement of these cameras would be their complete elimination.