Traffic Light Lawsuit in Chicago Stopped Short

Lower Wacker Drive, by flickr user Paul Sableman, licensed by Creative Commons

Stop! Hey, what’s that sound?

Aggressive drivers would be the first to tell you that traffic cameras are a major inconvenience. A recent class-action lawsuit was filed Chicago, contesting tickets given to motorists who had been caught running red lights. The lawsuit reached the Illinois Supreme Court before being struck down. The city had always stood behind the right to enforce these traffic laws under a “homefield advantage” policy, and eventually filed an ordinance in 2006. The class-action suit was aimed to dispute any traffic tickets given between 2003-2006.

Specially timed cameras were erected around Chicago in the early-2000′s, set to trigger when detecting a car crossing the intersection after the lights turn red. The offender then receives a ticket in the mail with a fine attached, using the picture as evidence. The 2006 law protected all traffic cameras and red light tickets given in most of Illinois’ major counties, including Cook and DuPage. To date, traffic cameras in Chicago have generated over half a billion dollars. The lawsuit was re-opened after the original case, Keaning vs City of Chicago, was dismissed in 2012.

Many people feel that receiving fines in the mail from a machine is a little invasive. Technologically, it’s quite impressive. The city’s main goal is to make Chicago a little bit safer for motorists and pedestrians by reminding them that they’re still subject to fines even if the police aren’t in sight. As the Windy City is often seen as the lawyer capital of the United States, it’s no wonder some of the biggest uproar about the traffic cameras would come from there. Perhaps drivers will think twice about sneaking through the light while on North Michigan Ave.

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