Thousands of tickets given to Chicago drivers, including those for not having up-to-date city stickers and other violations, may have been against the law, a court ruled Friday.
In a startling opinion, an Illinois appeals court has ruled that the city of Chicago issued tickets with fines and penalties well in excess of the $250 allowed by state law.
A resident who was ticketed, Kyle Garcher of Bucktown, said he was on a payment plan after being fined and penalized more than $1,000.
“It’s pretty insane to me just the fact that they’re able to raise so many tickets in such a short time with little to no recourse for assistance or help to get them paid,” Garcher said. .
Critics of the city’s ticketing practices argue that it can impact low-income and minority communities and lead to bankruptcy.
“People are losing their jobs, people are losing their cars, people are losing their livelihoods,” said Jacie Zolna, an attorney representing residents who sued the city over the tickets.
Zolna said the city, for at least the past decade, has flouted this law and repeatedly increased its fine and penalties in an effort to balance its budget. The city’s law department told NBC 5 that it is reviewing the court-issued opinion.
The plaintiffs in the case are working on a class action lawsuit, which they hope will bring relief to fellow Chicagoans and also reign in the city’s ticketing practices.
Zolna, the plaintiffs’ attorney, called Friday’s decision a victory.
“The more people pay attention to this issue, the more likely we are to change the way the city does business and make no mistake, it’s a business,” he said.