Red light cameras as a moneymaker? Court says OK

| 1/7/2009

Not only is it OK for Chicago to use red light cameras to issue traffic tickets, but it’s also OK for the city to use the cameras as a means of generating extra income.

That’s the ruling of a federal appeals court in a case where the owner of a car filed suit because a ticket was issued to her, even though she wasn’t driving the car at the time of the violation.

The ruling by the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided the woman’s right to due process wasn’t violated because the United States Supreme Court has upheld the seizure of cars, even in cases where the owner had nothing to do with the offense. And the judges wrote that the fact that the city’s red light cameras raise general revenue doesn’t condemn the system.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times and other Chicago news sources, the red light cameras have generated more than $110 million in revenue so far. Most of the money is being used to reduce the city’s debt, as opposed to being plowed back into police or traffic operations.

Chicago presently has 136 cameras and plans to add more.

– By Reed Black, staff writer