"You've Caught the NET!"



You've heard about Photo Enforcement Cameras, haven't you?  Have you been pinched by one?  If you have, my guess is the infraction was minor - and, most often, your defense unsuccessful!  The Chicago System takes the cake, however, from what I have heard. 

Read on, and follow the link below, to learn more about my own recent experience fighting - without success - the Red Light Camera System here.

There will be 130 Automated Red Light Enforcement Camera Systems in the City of Chicago by the end of this year, across the city.  The cameras, as you know, take several still pictures of an alleged red-light violator - approaching the intersection, making the illegal turn, showing the red-light status, as well as a close up of the offending car's plate.

Here in Chicago, the cameras send the ticket to the REGISTERED OWNER of the vehicle - not necessarily the driver.  Several weeks after the supposed infraction, the ticket comes in the mail - often surprising the registered owner/recipient.

The cameras record the exact vehicle speed (to one-tenth MPH) during the entire process, and allow precise timing of how long after the light turned red did was the driver in the intersection, as well as the duration of the preceding yellow light.

Some states, including Minnesota, prohibit the use of Red Light Cameras unless the driver can be seen in the photography.  Not so in Illinois, however.  Here, the cameras photograph the car, but the driver is not to be seen.  This concept passed review by the Illinois Supreme Court several months ago.  Their decision - the OWNER of the vehicle is responsible for the behavior of any driver he or she allows behind the wheel of any vehicle they might own.

Here's the rig here in the City of Chicago -

Two rigs, actually!

First, virtually any defense against the alleged violation is nearly always rejected.  You can't appear before an Administrative Hearing Officer and complain about the unfairness of the system.  Or the nature of any alleged infraction.  Or even State of Illinois guidelines regarding things like warning signs prior to the intersection.  Most of these do not apply here in Chicago - a large city that has Home Rule Powers that may choose to omit such common-sense courtesies.

Second, those committing the most minor infractions of the law - a slightly rolling stop, with caution, at an intersection - are treated pretty much the same way, and face the same $100 fine, as a driver who blew right through the light!

City Officials may defend the system for reducing traffic accidents, and improving safety.  This might be the case - although there have been some instances of drivers actually getting rear-ended for stopping too quickly when they discover they are approaching a red-light camera intersection.  The real reason appears to be INCREASED REVENUE!

Cash-strapped Chicago will make in excess of $50 Million in 2008 from alleged red-light violators.  Many will not contest their violations.  And most would not have received their tickets from live Police Officers in judgment call situations.

I'm not a law breaker, mind you, nor a reckless driver.  But the system here makes me a little mad, and a bit frustrated.

See our post yesterday via BlogChicagoHomes.com for a few details from my recent Red Light Camera Violation Experience - and maybe a way to protect yourself.  Or, maybe not!

But, when you come to Chicago, look UP before you approach that intersection - because you never know what may be watching you!


Comment balloon 10 commentsDean Moss • July 24 2008 05:00AM


While I agree they may increase safety and slow/stop drivers who think they are invincible when it comes to obeying the laws, it sounds as if your system may be a bit over the top.  I would think there would be different penalties for infractions, depending upon the severity.  Sounds as if "Big City" is really watching you.

Posted by Sheila Reeves (Allen Tate Realtors) over 10 years ago

I think the camera's are a good idea.  A former shytown girl.

Posted by Christina Williams. REALTOR® TN property search & local insights (First Realty Company) over 10 years ago

It is more about revenue than safety. Gos only knows where all the money goes...but they constantly scream for more.

Posted by Anonymous over 10 years ago


They're putting these cameras in Tucson, but with one change from the Windy City:  there is only a financial penalty for running the light.  No report is made to your insurance company.  In Tucson, this is purely and simply a revenue source for the city. 

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 10 years ago

when you come to Chicago, look UP before you approach that intersection

Hi Dean,

Thanks for the warning.  I'm going to be in Chicago in November.

Posted by Not Yet Licensed over 10 years ago

Hey, all -

Thanks for all the comments!

The issue here is not that a driver should not be held accountable and liable for violating the law.  If you run a red light, or if you inordinately break the speed limit, you deserve a ticket.  That, of course, is dangerous!

But if the infraction is very slight, and you have little or no chance for appeal or discussion, or if a Hearing Officer can interpret the law any way he or she sees fit at the moment, or if the "Chain of Judgment" is somehow INCENTIVIZED for a high-percentage conviction rate - I see a problem. 

And, of course, I see a clever, but annoying way of adding money to city coffers - without increasing property or other direct taxes (although, here in Chicago - they did THAT, too!)

Talk with you soon!


Posted by Dean Moss, Dean's Team Chicago IL Real Estate Team (Dean's Team - Keller Williams Realty Partners Chicago IL) over 10 years ago


There's no doubt in my mind that the cameras have made me a more cautious driver when approaching intersections, and that's probably good.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 10 years ago

They have made me cuatious too..I worry now about being rear-ended as I stop for  yellows.

Posted by Anonymous over 10 years ago

how much wood did a bitchey guy take

Posted by Brittany Cherry almost 10 years ago

I no longer purchase goods or services whenever possible in any town that uses these cameras.  Since I can't vote the bozos out of office that put these in, I can at least deny  them my sales tax dollars.  I am glad I no longer live in Chicago!  Even if you make a legal turn on red, you can still get a ticket since this is all run by the red light camera company and they have a huge incentive to ticket every car they can get a picture of.  YOU have to take the effort to get out of the $100 fine and many people will not since it does not go on your record.  nice scam folks.

This has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with highway robbery.

Posted by Gweaselstomper over 9 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments