The Beacon News in Illinois has another story of ticket camera bureaucracy causing problems for motorists. Here’s an excerpt:
Unsure why the Kane County Circuit Clerk would send him anything in the mail, Ernie Bolen assumed he’d been summoned for jury duty.
Needless to say, a letter stating he owed $375 for speeding in an Interstate 88 construction zone came as a surprise to 43-year-old Bolen, who says he never saw a ticket or anything notifying him of a court appearance.
“I haven’t seen it,” the Montgomery man said of a citation. “I was like, what the heck is this.”
Court records show the ticket was generated by a tollway construction zone speed camera on May 5. A June 19 court date was scheduled. Bolen, who says he never received any notice of a court date, received a judgement against him and the fines were assessed.
Essentially, Bolen was convicted of speeding without ever having any idea that he had even received a ticket. As is always the case when a city’s camera system makes a mistake, it was described as an “isolated incident.”
Bolen’s situation stems from what officials described as a glitch with an Illinois State Police vendor responsible for generating tickets through speed vans positioned on I-88 and other construction zones around the Chicago area. State Police District 15 Sgt. Jim Jenkner described Bolen’s situation as “isolated,” although he couldn’t say how many tickets could have been issued or how many motorists could have been affected in Kane County.
As the article continues, it becomes clear that this wasn’t an isolated incident at all:
Circuit Clerk Deborah Seyller said problems similar to Bolen’s occurred with tickets issued for hearings on May 15 and June 19, although she couldn’t specify how many cases were impacted.
“They do try to limit how many they file,” Seyller said, estimating the state police do about 100 tickets per court date. “We started getting them before we knew they were coming.”
Under the system the city has set up, this kind of mistake is apparently pretty common:
With the speed cameras, [Circuit Clerk Seyller] said, the ticket doesn’t go to court until after the driver is notified. That comes via a “packet” sent certified mail to the driver and a similar one that goes to the clerk, and with enough time to assure everyone has notice of the court date.
“Every violator gets a packet,” Jenkner said. But Bolen says he received nothing until the missed-court notice arrived. At that point, he called the clerk’s office, was told he had been cited for driving 63 in a 45 mph zone and that it was common for the citations to not make it to the driver.
This all leads to the obvious question, which is how many people have been convicted without their knowledge because of this “glitch” in the ticket camera system?
It’s also important to note that these kind of mistakes are not cheap:
Seyller was surprised to hear Bolen received only the minimum fine, especially without appearing before a judge. She said some drivers have walked away owing more than $600 for a conviction.
But don’t worry everybody, the cameras are for safety, not revenue.
[courtesy The National Motorists Association]