CHICAGO (CBS) – The Emanuel Administration has reached a multi-million dollar settlement with motorists who received tickets from the city's controversial red light camera system.
The settlement, which still needs full city council approval, means nearly $39 million to people who received and/or paid red light camera tickets. The law says there's about $27 million in refunds and $12 million in debt forgiveness for those who did not pay the ticket.
Attorney Jacie Zolna sued the city of Chicago on behalf of motorist, he said, did not receive proper notice of their red light and speed camera violations. The settlement is a big deal.
"It's $38.75 million that will go to class members' refunds," and debt relief for some unpaid tickets.
He also said there are other provisions.
"The 1.5 million tickets that are subject to the suit – the city has agreed that they won't use those tickets for purposes of booting cars or revoking driver's licenses. To me that's a big deal," he said.
Zolna said in about three months the qualifying drivers who can get a refund will be notified in the mail. After filling out paperwork, a check could come sometime in 2018.
Alderman Anthony Beale a longtime critic of the Red Light Program said, "I told you so. If you can recall years ago, I said the whole red light camera issue was more about revenue than it was about public safety.
"It's unfortunate that, that amount of money needs to be paid out, but my question now is where the heck are we going to get that kind of money from?"
Beale said city leaders will be busy in the days ahead finding out where the money will come from.
He said the program has come back to bite the city where it hurts – in the wallet.
And he is still calling for changes in the program.
The group, Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras said Thursday's news means their separate lawsuit against the city will likely be settled as well.
The Corporations Counsel released a statement Thursday afternoon on behalf of the red light lawsuit settlement reading, "The Law Department has diligently defended against this litigation, but given certain rulings from the courts and the risk of a judgment against the City in excess of $250 million, we believe this resolution is in the best interests of the taxpayers. While the City continues to believe it has strong legal defenses to these claims, we are recommending the City Council approve the proposed settlement to protect taxpayers from significant financial exposure."
It is possible the council could approve the settlement on Monday.
for more features.