By on April 25, 2009

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is fed up with the state of Illinois for issuing toll road photo tickets and collection notices to innocent drivers in her state. Swanson yesterday fired off a 75-page complaint to the Illinois Tollway, the Illinois Office of the Executive Inspector General and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D). Swanson enumerated the problems Minnesotans described when calling her office for help:

  • Citizens were sent tickets for alleged toll violations involving automobiles they had previously sold.
  • Citizens were sent tickets for violations involving automobiles they had not yet purchased at the time of the alleged toll violation.
  • Citizens were threatened by collection agencies that their driver’s license or vehicle registration will be suspended if they do not pay a fine to the collection agency—even in cases where they were not responsible for the alleged infraction.
  • Citizens reported receiving missed-toll tickets even though they have not driven in Illinois. (The latter category is believed to result from errors in visually processing license plate numbers from Tollway photographs.)
  • Swanson found that it was inadequate for Illinois Tollway officials to tell motorists that they could challenge tickets in a hearing process.

    “The problem with this is that many citizens would rather pay the ticket—amounting to hundreds of dollars—than go through the hassle of contesting the matter,” Swanson said. “I hope the Illinois Legislature will address the matter.”

    In light of the issuance of so many tickets to people who did not own the vehicle alleged to have committed violation, Swanson called on Illinois officials to stop sending photo tickets to Minnesota residents until Illinois can certify that its vehicle registration database contains up-to-date, accurate information. She also insisted that Illinois call off the collection agencies threatening Minnesota motorists with license suspensions for failure to pay the bogus citations.

    “It is unfair for the Tollway to place the burden on Minnesota citizens to correct the errors of a faulty system,” Swanson wrote in her letter. “Allowing a citizen to object to an improperly-issued ticket should not be a substitute for ensuring that tickets are properly issued to the correct owner in the first place.”

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    17 Comments on “MN AG Slams IL Over Bogus Photo Tickets...”

    • avatar

      To sort all these issues out Minnesota should deliver an annual tribute to Illinois, which will clear up any dispute.

    • avatar

      come to think of it, Wisconsin Indiana, Iowa Missouri and Michigan should pay as well.

    • avatar

      Here’s a solution: Ban the frucking cameras.

    • avatar
      Gary Numan

      Nice. Another reason to avoid Illinois and another reason owning a car and operating one in the USA continues to be a pain in the A** for many folks who are not into cars like many who use this website. Tolls, cameras, taxes, insurance, massive depreciation, etc are turning people off.

      No wonder folks have stayed with mass-transit who tried it last year even though gas prices are back down. Many have also ditched their extra cars. As much as I love cars as a toy and as art, the masses view them as only a tool and that is reality. The “tool” is fast becoming a liability instead of an asset.

    • avatar

      Kudos to MN Attorney General Swanson.

    • avatar

      Swanson could issue (brutally extensive and costly) information and appearance subpoenas to the collection agencies involved. (And subsequent arrest warrants when and if they don’t produce/appear).

    • avatar

      To ihatetrees:

      I didn’t know it was legally possible for the AG of one state to subpoena/demand the appearance of employees of another state.

      If so, Swanson might have some major clout and might be able to bring this to light in the national discourse.

    • avatar

      Guilty until proven innocent or do I have that backward?

    • avatar


      It is possible. A while back some employees of the Franchise Tax Board (CA’s IRS) had a judgment against them in a NV court upheld for their overzealous pursuit of a alleged tax deadbeat.

      Employees of outsourced bill collectors and other vendors are certainly subject to subpoena. If you make it a big enough PITA they will just stop trying to go after MN residents. Heck for real fun file a RICO civil suit with its specter of triple damages.

    • avatar

      So, if the MN AG puts the collection firms on notice that the debts are not accurate, can she then use her office to sue them out of business for continued attempts to collect on them.

    • avatar

      I loathe Illinois, this just adds fuel to my dislike of the place. Crooked as a dog’s back leg.

      Thankfully, I managed to get a new “toy” down in Grand Rapids Michigan today instead of having to drive to Chicago area to look for one next weekend.

      Got a 1993 BMW 740iL to replace my empty spot in the garage where a Corvair used to sit.

      Wow – it was literally my 2nd drive in a BMW (first time was in the early 1980’s in a friend’s new 320i). The car – despite over a hundred thousand miles on the odometer – felt like it was CNC’d from a solid billet of steel. Drove home in a hell of a thunderstorm with my wife following in the family sedan. Took about 3 hours because it was storming so badly (usually 2 1/2 hours…)

      Yeah, I have a smile on my face. Got the BMW for a good price, too. It’ll see 2000 miles a year, maybe 3000 tops.

      One of my work pals has a 911 and a real VW Beetle; another has a 911; a third has a 912. Another has a Mercedes, yet another few have Audis and others have BMW’s. We need a German Car Club at work, obviously…

    • avatar

      Try living in Illinois. You get the same treatment….here’s your ticket, if you don’t like it or its straight up bogus, you can fight it.

      Minnesotans aren’t getting any different treatment than Illinois residents do.

    • avatar

      Maybe a trade is in order.
      Minnesota can handle speeding tickets for Illinois.
      Illinois can handle Senate elections for Minnesota.

    • avatar

      The Minnesota Supreme Court struck down the use of the red light cameras for the exact same reason that people are getting tickets from Illinois who weren’t driving at the time of the violation.

      Here is the article. The claims against using the system are valid.

      Even if you are in favor of the cameras, they have to prove that you are the one violating the law or it is unconstitutional. License plate photos are not enough evidence to pass the constitutional test. At least in Minnesota.

      Its funny how all these little details, like is the owner the driver and/or is the owner the owner, are worked out when a real cop stops a driver. Yet they are insignificant when it is a photocop.

      So there the cameras sit waiting to be switched back on again as soon as the State Constitution is determined by DOT and the Department of Revenue as being “not in the best interest of the state”.

    • avatar

      Everyone I’ve talked to here in CA who has received one of these tickets has mentioned receiving extremely detailed photographs with the ticket, the car outside the intersection with a red light, the car blowing through the intersection, and them in the drivers seat while the car was blowing through the intersection.

      On these grounds I don’t see the problem. If the light’s red then don’t enter the intersection. That’s not anti-car, that’s common-sense.

      If people are receiving tickets which don’t prove that they, personally, committed the violation, or worse, don’t prove that there even was a violation, then that’s a problem. But that’s not been the experience of people who I’ve talked with who have received the tickets locally, or of the ticket-associated photos I’ve seen. They’re really pretty cut-and-dried.

    • avatar


      There are two problems. One your evidence is anecdotal, and therefore trumped by mine. EVERYONE I know who has gotten one of these tickets is innocent, and had to go through a nightmare to prove it. (okay it was one person, but it was a nightmare, and the car was never theirs or even like any of theirs)

      Still, the real problem is that it seems to be a necessity that where these cameras go up, yellows get shortened, and accidents increase. Will we need a manslaughter case to stop this? Maybe a wrongful death suit that transfers all the ticket revenue out of the pol’s pockets?

    • avatar

      Start the chant…

      If you vote in support of Red Light Cameras, I WILL NOT VOTE FOR YOU.

      I will vote for the MN AG if she wants to relocate to Florida though!

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