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Illinois Comptroller will no longer withhold state payouts for red-light camera fees


Tuesday, January 12, 2021  |  Article  |  By Cole Lauterbach | The Center Square

Chicago Mayor (16) , Comptroller (21) , Local Government (60) , Red Light Cameras

(The Center Square) – Local municipalities will soon lose the leverage of seizing state tax returns or other expected Illinois payouts to pay off red-light camera fines. 

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced that, starting Feb. 6, the state will no longer collect fines against drivers who receive red light camera tickets. 

“My office is taking decisive action in response to unethical arrangements that have come to light regarding the red-light camera industry,” Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza said. “As a matter of public policy, this system is clearly broken. I am exercising the moral authority to prevent state resources being used to assist a shady process that victimizes taxpayers.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announcing the city will ticket speeders caught on camera going 6 mph over the limit. Mendoza’s office hasn’t collected the fees in Chicago since 2016. 

First allowed in 2012, red-light cameras have come under scrutiny in recent years, with some arguing that they are merely revenue generators that could cause more accidents than they prevent. 

An investigation by ABC7 found most motorists fined by the cameras were actually turning right when the light was red, something legal in most instances.

Illinois-based SafeSpeed was named by former Illinois Sen. Martin Sandoval as an organization that paid state and local officials to allow their cameras into intersections with a potential for high profitability. 

Illinois lawmakers have previously filed legislation to ban red-light cameras entirely but none have been successfully enacted.

After the change, local municipalities will have to employ private collection agencies to collect fees. 

“I think it’s critical that the state’s collection mechanisms should not be hijacked by political insiders to profit from an enforcement system whose integrity is now being seriously questioned,” Mendoza said.