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!
DEAN & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO