By on October 2, 2009

Comfy?

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]

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12 Comments on “IL: Driver Convicted Of Speeding Without Receiving Ticket...”


  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    Sorry, but the headline is misleading.

    Should read: IL: Driver convicted of speeding, claims he never got a ticket.” Do we know, as an objective fact, that he did not? The article doesn’t say.

    If the “packet” was sent via registered mail it should be easy. Receipt? Then he got the ticket. No receipt? No ticket, and no default judgment.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    And Illinois wants to add speed cameras to non-construction zones.

    $600 for speeding. 45mph, 24/7, regardless of workers+speed cameras in vans (though the 2 times I saw them they were pretty obvious)

    I love Chicago, but the way the government runs in that city and state makes me sick. I don’t know how people can keep electing these people….

  • avatar
    jkross22

    @Martin,

    I think you hit the nail on the head. I’ve had a few friends receive these tickets, and from what they said, they arrive in regular mail. At least that’s how they do it in AZ.

    I’m sure the city would like to avoid the added cost of certified mail, but it seems like this is wide open loophole if done otherwise.

  • avatar

    100 tickets per court date…his ticket was “only” $375…many are $600.

    That’s between $37,500 and $60,000 PER DAY.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    If it is a ticket from the state, you MUST be personally identifiable. If it’s from the city, then anything goes.

    Wear a ski mask in winter when you drive. You should be fine, at least from state tickets.

    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2619&ChapAct=625%26nbsp%3BILCS%26nbsp%3B7%2F&ChapterID=49&ChapterName=VEHICLES&ActName=Automated+Traffic+Control+Systems+in+Highway+Construction+or+Maintenance+Zones+Act.

    Look at section (625 ILCS 7/25) section (e)

    (e) If the driver of the vehicle cannot be identified through the photograph, the owner is not liable for the fine, and the citation may not be counted against the driving record of the owner. If the driver can be identified, the driver is liable for the fine, and the violation is counted against his or her driving record.

    Also: This is not legal advice. If you get a ticket, get a lawyer. This is my personal understanding of the law ONLY. Do not rely on this post for any sort of legal guidance.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    Illinois law is actually pretty restrictive in regards to photo enforcement. I’m really surprised they can schedule 100 hearings a day. It would take well over an hour to have evidence properly introduced at the hearing that demonstrates the driver is liable for the ticket. If everyone challenged their photo tickets, traffic court would grind to a halt.

    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2619&ChapAct=625%26nbsp%3BILCS%26nbsp%3B7%2F&ChapterID=49&ChapterName=VEHICLES&ActName=Automated+Traffic+Control+Systems+in+Highway+Construction+or+Maintenance+Zones+Act%2E

    I’d say that as far as photo enforcement laws go, this one isn’t too bad at all.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Robstar

    Wear a ski mask. Love the idea. Two problems – one, it’s itchy and, two, Ray LaHood would claim it’s driving distracted. But how about a nice Venetian Carnivale mask – like in V for Vendetta?

  • avatar
    NickR

    I live in Ontario and am having a similar problem. I received a parking ticket and decided to fight it (the lines were refreshed during the Industrial Revolution). I went to the parking office told them I wanted a court date and off I went. Never heard anything back. Went to renew my license plate, and was told I owed $150 for defaulting on a ticket. I patiently explained the situation but was told I couldn’t renew my plate until I paid the fine. No way. So, I recently got a ticket for driving with an expired plate. I told them I was going to go to court over that too. The government holds its citizens to a high standard but is sloppy as hell in it’s own practices. Generally, I am against giving in to extortion.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Sending the tix by registered mail would eat into the profit margin.

  • avatar
    Bearadise

    NickR wrote: “The government holds its citizens to a high standard but is sloppy as hell in it’s own practices.”

    Understatement of the year.

    Bravo!

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    A whole lot more can happen to you for not receiving a letter a government agency claims to have sent you.

    Manuel Navarro opened his pay envelope and found zip. Every dime garnished.

    He was just one of approximately 120,000 men who had his name falsely entered onto a benefit form at the insistence of the Los Angeles Prosecutor so the mother could collect state money and the state had someone to go after. Manuel knew nothing of this woman or child.

    L.A. Prosecutor said, “To bad, we notified you by mail and your time to appeal is up. You have absolutely no recourse other than pay or go to prison.” The Court upheld the $350,000 child support amount (payable over 21 years) as it had in previous cases.

    After hundreds of losses in court to overturn this travesty, “Los Angles v. Navarro” finally was won in favor of the “phone book dad” and at last count over 800 default paternity convictions have been overturned. Unable to pay the child support or $5,000 to get it overturned, today several thousand sit in California Prisons.

    By the way, many courts do not allow DNA evidence as proof of paternity fraud.

    The “notification by mail” seemed suspect as the amount of postage purchases fell far short to cover the number of notifications that supposedly were mailed… (Oops!)

    The State of California later made the L.A. Prosecutor the head of the California Ethics committee.

  • avatar
    srclontz

    That the state of Illinois is not notifying people who were issues automated tickets comes as no surprise to me, they can’t even mark the start and the end of construction zones properly. I can’t count the number of times where I have continued to travel for miles at the work zone speed, only to find out that there was absolutely nothing marking the end of the work zone. I’ve seen uncovered 65 MPH signs, next to work zone, and photo enforcement signs, all while their ticket generating van is in operation. Because confusion reigns, most drivers don’t bother with the work zone speed, and I don’t blame them. Driving the posted work zone speed of 45, while the average traffic speed is 20-30 miles per hour above that, poses a hazard to me, but they don’t seem to care. Either the automated ticket program is ran maliciously, or it just so happens that their negligence maximizes revenue.


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