CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a judge versus the city of Chicago when it comes to red light cameras. At issue, whether you have to keep paying those pesky tickets.
CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports red light cameras are the bane of Chicago drivers, but now a Circuit Court judge has ruled that the city violated “fundamental principles of justice, equity and good conscience” in how it has run the program.
“That undermines people’s trust in the system,” said Mike Brockway of theexpiredmeter.com.
His website and has long battled the red light cameras.
“Shame on the city for not doing things right,” Brockway said. “They expect motorists to do things right and obey the speed limit and not go through red lights.”
Motorist Leo Athas says he has had two red light tickets.
“I thought that the light was way to short but I didn’t challenge it because everyone I spoke to said don’t bother challenging it,” he said.
And he’s a lawyer.
Judge Kathleen Kennedy said, among other things the city unfairly assessed late penalties on violators and disregarded mandatory second notice rules.
As a suit by consumers moves forward, a next step could be court ordered refunds to drivers who paid their fines. It could be hundreds of millions of dollars.
“We believe we are on clear grounds about how we’re going to proceed,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The mayor would say no more about it.
Earlier, the mayor’s law department said, “It is the city’s position that the plaintiffs are not entitled to any recovery, let alone any refunds…the plaintiff’s claims are legally insufficient.”
Dave Thomas says he was ticketed, but it never made it to his mailbox.
“I’ve got $1,500 in unpaid speeding tickets,” Thomas said.
Like many, he says he never had the chance to contest the citations until each doubled.
That’s one of a handful of reasons a judge’s ruling could drive ticket refunds back into motorists wallets.
“This is just another example of bad public policy and bad fiscal policy,” said Alderman Leslie Hairston.
Alderman Hairston is urging the city not to waste more tax dollars fighting the decision.
She suggests until there’s more clarity from the courts if you get a ticket, “go ahead and pay it knowing that maybe you might get a refund.”
Thomas says he doesn’t expect a refund, “although that would be nice.”
The alderman says 6$00 million is in limbo, stuck between red light cameras and the ongoing court case. Another hearing in the suit is set for next month.