Appellate Court Upholds Legality Of Chicago’s Red Light Cameras

Since 2010, a group of Chicago drivers have been quietly challenging the legality of Chicago’s red light camera program in a class action lawsuit.

But, this past week the plaintiffs’ case was dealt a major blow when the First District of the Illinois Appellate Court unanimously upheld a previous ruling by the Cook County Circuit Court, which dismissed the lawsuit in 2011.

“We are pleased that the appellate court has upheld the validity of our ordinance and dismissed this case in its entirety,” said Chicago Department of Law spokesperson Roderick Drew in an email.

The lawsuit claims the City of Chicago did not have the legal right to establish its red light camera program when it was first created. That’s because the original RLC ordinance was passed in 2003, before the State of Illinois had a law on the books permitting this type of automated traffic enforcement.

Further, the lawsuit argues the city lacked home rule authority to do so, claiming the Illinois Vehicle Code did not permit this type of enforcement at the time. Home rule is the ability for municipalities with populations over 25,000 to pass laws that might normally be issued at the state level.

Read more at DNA Info Chicago.

4 Responses to Appellate Court Upholds Legality Of Chicago’s Red Light Cameras

  1. Jeff says:

    Stay tuned. The Illinois First District Court of Appeal has been overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court in a number of recent high profile cases, most notably the Rahm Emanuel residency case. Quite often the basis for reversal is the First District’s misapplication of clear statutory provisions.

  2. sammie l. crowder says:

    my concerns are that as a defencer, there is a const. right to face ones
    accuer. a camera can never be consirdered to to a person, which implys that it can not be questioned by a defender

  3. nonya says:

    sammie – you have no idea what you’re talking about. The Constitution guarantees a defendant the right to confront *witnesses*, not accusers. A picture is not a witness anyway, it’s evidence. A defendant can absolutely attack the collection method of the evidence in court. Success rates for RLC’s are not high.

  4. Video evidence of an alleged red light violation can be challenged for accuracy as not correctly representing the event under discussion before the court. If one looks closely at the video clip from many of these tickets you may notice slight staggered motions of the vehicles. This is referred to as “judder” in the video industry. Judder contains duplicate and/or unequal length frames of video. If you are timing a traffic signal’s steady yellow interval it will appear to be longer because of the duplicate video frames take up add time which your eyes can’t see. Each video frame represents 0.033 seconds. That may not sound like a lot, but many tickets can have 6 to 15 duplicate frames. So if there are 10 duplicate frames for example it represents 0.333 seconds or a 1/3 of a second which can spell the a large difference in how many tickets are issued.
    I use professional video software to forensically examine the downloaded video clip evidence and review it one frame at a time. I add a parallel video track which adds frame and stop watch timers without affecting the integrity of the original video clip. The frame counter gives each frame (30 per second) its own unique identity. The stopwatch times the steady yellow interval more accurately than the city traffic engineers are able to do with a stop watch. The warm up and cool down segments of the yellow intervals are identified in the video and not included in the timing measurements as it should be.
    Because city cameras are clicking red light tickets for as little as 0.010 seconds (1/100 of a second) into the red the numbers add up quickly as do the 620,463 tickets for 2012, equaling $69,098,698. There are many instances where a group of traffic signals facing oncoming vehicles don’t all switch at the same time as well as periods where no traffic light is illuminated.
    I have developed an evidence method which demonstrates the city’s video evidence to be defective, making the ticket null and void on its face in many cases. The court’s video player software (Microsoft Media Player) does not offer controls to view video evidence frame by frame or counters to identify each frame. In addition to which, Chicago’s administration hearings use small computer monitors where critical details can be hard to see. All these technical details and short yellows tilt the tables in favor of the city department of revenue…

    I use professional video software to forensically examine the downloaded video clip evidence and review it one frame at a time. I also add a parallel video track which adds frame and stop watch timers without affecting the original integrity of the video clip. The frame counter gives each frame (30 per second) its own unique identity. The stopwatch times the steady yellow interval more accurately than the city traffic engineers are able to. The warm up and cool down segments of the yellow interval are identified and not included in the timing measurements.
    Because city cameras are clicking red light tickets for as little as 0.030 seconds (3/100 of a second) into the red the numbers add up quickly as do the tickets for 2012, 620,463 red light tickets for $69,098,698. There are many instances where a group of traffic signals facing vehicles don’t all switch at the same time as well as periods where no traffic light is illuminated.
    I have developed an evidence method which demonstrates the city’s video evidence to be defective, making the ticket null and void in many cases. The court’s video player software (Microsoft Media Player) does not offer controls to view video evidence frame by frame or counters. In addition to which, Chicago’s administration hearings use small computer monitors where details are hard to see. All these technical details and short yellows tilt the tables in favor of the city department of revenue…

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