“No time for me to change my behavior” – CBS Chicago


By Dorothy Tucker

CHICAGO (CBS) – CBS 2 investigators have discovered another problem with the city’s new speeding rules.

These rules force drivers to go as little as 6 miles per hour over the speed limit. Under city rules, people caught speeding for the first time should be warned.

But CBS 2 investigator Dorothy Tucker has discovered that these warnings are often too small, too late.

Nick Lucero rode a Divvy bike to his interview with CBS 2. In fact, he rides a lot of places these days.

“I come here twice in the morning,” Lucero said.

He rides a bike instead of driving because, he said, “I just don’t want to get tickets anymore. He received four between March 20 and May 2 – most of them were these new $ 35 bills.

Lucero’s usual route runs along Ashland Avenue, near Lake Street and along Union Park.

He admits: “There is evidence that I was speeding up.” He does not dispute it. But when he was caught on March 12, it was the first time he had been caught by radar anywhere in town.

He was driving 36 mph on Ashland Avenue, where the speed limit is 30 mph.

“The traffic flow is often over 30,” Lucero said.

But since this incident was his first capture, it was only a warning. There was no charge. The warning is a reminder to drivers to slow down and protect children, reduce crashes and save lives.

But there is a big problem for pilots like Lucero.

“I received the warning two months after the actual incidents [violations]. So I didn’t have time to correct my behavior, ”he said.

Late warning notice

Lucero is not the only driver to have received late warnings.

“I am extremely angry,” said Angelisa Winding. She was first caught speeding on 75th Street near Jeffery Boulevard in the South Shore on March 12 – coincidentally the same day as Lucero. Before this warning was sent to her, she recorded a total of 15 speeding infractions. Most of his were also those new $ 35 bills.

“What’s the point of sending a warning if you don’t tell people early enough?” ” she said.

There is nothing new about issuing tickets. The city has been doing this since speed cameras first lined the city streets. But the number of speeding warnings issued for the first time soared after March 1. That’s when the city reset these cameras, which are now flashing and fining drivers exceeding the speed limit between 6mph and 10mph.

Before that, fines were imposed from 10 mph above the limit.

CBS 2 investigators requested records of the number of warnings and tickets issued since March 1. Records provided by the Chicago Department of Finance show that nearly 320,000 drivers have received warnings. What this data didn’t reveal was when those reviews were posted.

The city ordinance states that warnings must be mailed “… within 30 days” after receiving the owner’s verification from the Illinois Secretary of State. When we asked the city how long it was between the date of the incident and the date the warning was sent, a city spokeswoman said it could take “4-6 weeks.” That’s up to 42 days.

Let’s look at Winding’s timeline. The speeding incident that triggered his warning happened on March 12. But his notice was not sent until May 14. In his case, it took 64 days for the notice to be sent to him.

Lucero had exactly the same gap.

“If the intention of the government is to issue a warning to correct behavior before it becomes punitive, then they have failed in that intention because the warning only came months after the incident,” Lucero said.

Over a hundred viewers contacted us after our first survey of the city’s new speed rules. Many voiced the same complaint as Winding and Lucero – the date cited and the date their warning notices were sent amounted to a long wait.

The longest we found was the camera capturing the speeding driver on March 31, but the city did not send the notice until June 11 – 103 days in between.

RELATED: “Hope City Does Right And Refund Those Tickets:” CBS 2 Investigators Find Speed ​​Camera Reporting Errors, Get Results

Why the delay?

Why is the city taking so long to issue warnings that drivers so desperately want? We visited the Department of Finance to get answers. After being promised that the spokesperson would be “fair with you”, we waited 13 minutes without anyone coming out to speak. We left without answers.

This lack of response follows an e-mail exchange that left us perplexed and asked us the same question: what’s wrong with the delay?

“I don’t get the tickets for two months,” Winding said. “I think it’s a way for the city to make money.

And the city is potentially making money. The data we got from the city shows how many tickets are issued by each camera and how much the city fines the drivers.

Comparing the period from March 1 to May 27 for all years 2016 to 2021, the total amount of fines has varied. But it’s never been higher than this year – $ 26.5 million in less than three months.

The previous record was $ 13.3 million in 2016.

Lucero was fined a total of $ 205. Winding was fined $ 708.

“It hurts a lot because I’m not working,” Winding said. “I don’t have a job, so it hurts a lot.”

Both are convinced that they shouldn’t owe that much money if they had received their warnings sooner.

Solution to speed up warnings

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) takes charge of speed cameras. He says the speed zone warning signs are clearly visible.

“That inscription over there is warning you. He says what the speed is. You just have to slow down. This is the main thing, ”he said.

But even Ald. Waguespack recognizes the sudden increase in speeding tickets.

“The city needs to make sure they come out,” he said. “If you want safety to be a priority and you can get this advice passed faster, then do it.”

He is prepared to consider changes to municipal law to speed up the process of sending out warning notices.

“I think this is something we should be looking at. Can you take it to 15-20 days so you can give people notice the first time in a correct way instead of potentially racking up tickets? Said Waguespack.

He promises to meet with the Ministry of Finance on this subject.

In the meantime, Winding is hoping to secure a payment plan with the city, and Lucero plans to ride a bike for as long as the weather in Chicago allows.

We heard from some drivers who attempted to have their tickets rejected, saying the warnings arrived well after 30 days. So far, they have failed.

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