Attorney: City’s Offer Of 2nd Chance To Contest Red-Light Tickets A ‘Sham’

(CBS) — The city of Chicago is sending out letters to some drivers who previously received a ticket from a red light camera, giving them a second chance to contest it.

But an attorney who is suing the city over its red light program says there’s more to the letter than what meets the eye.

CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reports.

Dana Thorton reads from the letter she received from the city of Chicago, telling her that she can fight a red light camera ticket she already paid off from 2014.

Attorney Jacie Zolna says the letter that went out to about 1.2 million motorists leaves out a major piece of information.

“It doesn’t inform motorists that there’s a pending lawsuit that most likely will invalidate the very fines and penalties that are subject to this review notice,” he says.

He calls the letter a “bit of a sham.”

In March 2015, Zolna sued the city for improperly notifying people in the mail about their red light camera tickets and illegally applying late fees more quickly than allowed. A judge ruled to wipe out all fines against those drivers.

“If you want the citizens to follow the law, then you should follow the law as well, and the city just wasn’t doing that for over a decade,” he says.

In September 2016, the city passes a new ordinance laid out in the letter, giving people that second chance to review their red light camera ticket. But Zolna says the letter is really another opportunity for the city to collect the money a judge ordered them to previously refund.

“The whole purpose of this is to just create new and separate debt the city can collect,” he says.

If Zolna’s second lawsuit against the city is successful, those fines paid out over the years due to red light violations would be refunded or wiped off the books.

The city’s legal department did not comment for this report.

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