(The Center Square) – A group called Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras is calling on the Chicago City Council to take action to reverse a measure that reduced the threshold for sending a speeding ticket from 10 to 6 miles over the speed limit.
Last year, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lowered the threshold on when motorists would be assessed fines from automatic speed cameras to just 6 mph above the speed limit. Research by the Illinois Policy Institute shows the city raised more than double the previous year’s revenue from speeding tickets, with minority neighborhoods impacted the most.
Adam Schuster of the institute also said that the mayor’s change was made to get more money from drivers to help with the city’s massive debts without having to raise taxes.
“The city of Chicago’s financial problems are so bad and its taxes are already so high that when they are trying to raise the revenue they try and look for alternatives to just raising the property tax or sales tax,” Schuster said.
Mark Wallace, founder and executive director of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras, said Lightfoot has refused to reverse the action.
“A high number of motorists traveling in Chicago have received a speed camera ticket because of this new threshold, but people traveling in Black neighborhoods have been hit the hardest at twice the rate as those traveling in predominantly white neighborhoods,” Wallace said.
Nearly half of tickets received by low-income residents incur late fees and additional penalties before they are paid. Late penalties drive up the cost of tickets, turning a $35 citation into an $85 fine.
Wallace’s group wants the City Council to bring 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale’s amendment, which would reverse the threshold change, to the floor for a vote.
“We have been trying to get it to the floor for vote, but the city has been burying this amendment the last two or three times,” Wallace said. “We believe this is the time for changes and abolishing the photo enforcement of red-light and speed camera policies. We hope the city council will to take the necessary action to reverse the mayor’s decision.”
Chicago has 160 speed cameras in total, 27 of those cameras each generated more than $1 million from city drivers during the year, and 10 of those cameras generated more than $2 million. Two of them topped $3 million in total fines levied.
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.