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City Council again defeats Ald. Anthony Beale's bid to do away with lower 6mph threshold for speed camera tickets

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her allies on the City Council on Wednesday once again voted down an effort by Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) to repeal a lower threshold for speed camera tickets that went into effect last year, resulting in a massive surge in tickets for drivers.

On March 1, 2021, the city's network of speed cameras began issuing $35 tickets to drivers caught going 6 mph to 9 mph over the limit. Previously, only drivers caught going at least 10 mph over the limit were being ticketed.

Just weeks after the new lower threshold went into effect, Beale introduced a proposal to end the ticketing of drivers going 6 mph to 9 mph over the limit, and to resume ticketing only drivers exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph or more. Those caught exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph would still receive $35 tickets, and those going 11 mph or more over the limit would still get $100 tickets.

His plan never got a hearing in committee, and in September he unsuccessfully tried to force a vote by the full City Council, but his request was ruled out of order, because he hadn't filed his motion with the City Clerk's office by the proper deadline.

Beale tried again on Wednesday, but had made the same mistake by waiting until Monday to file his motion with the clerk's office, when the deadline for such a motion was last Wednesday.

Despite arguing that he should only have needed to file his motion within 48 hours of the meeting, the council voted 30-17 to table Beale's request, handing him another defeat on his bid to raise the threshold for speed camera tickets back to 10 mph.

CBS 2 has documented how the number of speed camera tickets issued by the city exploded immediately after the new lower threshold went into effect.

The CBS 2 Investigators looked at publicly available data as well as information received from a public records request for a 36-day period before and after the change took effect. We learned that citywide tickets went up from 35,784 in the five weeks before March 1 to 398,233 in the five weeks after. Those 398,000 tickets amounted to $871,035 in fines. Some of those tickets could have been first warnings that did not result in a fine owed.

The defeat of Beale's proposal on Wednesday is not necessarily the end of the debate. He could still try to force a City Council vote at a future meeting if he files his motion at least five business days ahead of time.

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