Court rules Chicago imposed illegally excessive fines on drivers for years

Court rules Chicago imposed illegally excessive fines on drivers for years
Lori Lightfoot (Image: YouTube screen grab)

The City of Chicago has sought to cover its massive, wasteful spending by impounding innocent people’s cars, and by imposing illegally excessive fines on drivers. The latter practice led to a ruling against the City by a state appeals court on May 6.

Reason Magazine reports:

Chicago has been hitting motorists with illegally high fines for years for not having up-to-date vehicle stickers, a state appellate court ruled Friday.

The Illinois First District Appellate Court found that Chicago has been flouting a state law that caps the amount it can fine drivers through its administrative court system at $250. The ruling came in a class-action lawsuit challenging the city’s notoriously punitive ticketing regime, especially for vehicle stickers, which cost nearly $100 to renew every year and carry stiff fines for failing to keep them up to date.

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“For far too long the city has used ticket fines to raise revenue at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens,” Jacie Zolna, a lawyer representing the Chicago residents in the lawsuit, said in a press release. “Today’s ruling is a victory for all working people in Chicago who have been unfairly burdened with the city’s expensive and out of control ticketing.”

At a press conference on the ruling, one of the lawsuit plaintiffs, Rodney Shelton, told reporters he fell deep into ticket debt after buying a car that failed an emissions test. Without passing the test, he couldn’t get a vehicle sticker, and without a vehicle sticker, he kept getting ticketed, even though he wasn’t driving the car. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Even though he parked the car in a private lot, he said, the city ticketed him dozens of times for not having the sticker until the fees and penalties reached about $20,000. He had to declare bankruptcy before he could start paying it back, he said.

“I look at it as the city being predators on the taxpayers,” he said.

The court’s ruling in Blaha v. City of Chicago can be found at this link.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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