Many Illinois red-light cameras illegally ticket turning drivers, lawsuit says
At one intersection in Stone Park, over $695,000 has been collected in fines the past two years, attorneys argue.
As Michael Tock inched his car forward in the right-turn lane at a red light in Stone Park, he says he was careful to stop before merging into traffic.
Yet a red-light camera system said he had to pay the price, $100, for a ticket that Tock and his attorneys say violates Illinois law.
Tock, jointly represented by three Chicago law firms, is suing the village of Stone Park in a class-action lawsuit for issuing too many red-light camera tickets.
“Safety is not involved, it’s all about the money,” said Bob Fioretti, one of Tock’s attorneys and former Chicago City Council member.
Since March 2020, the right-turn lane camera at Mannheim Road and Lake Street where Tock turned has generated more than $695,000 in fines for the village, his attorneys said.
Citing an Illinois red-light camera traffic law, Tock’s attorneys say much of that money should be returned to motorists — plus interest.
While Illinois law says drivers must stop before a stop line or crosswalk, “automated traffic law enforcement systems” like red-light cameras are prohibited from ticketing drivers who make complete stops before entering the intersection, even if the stop occurs after the stop line or crosswalk, so long as no pedestrians or bicyclists are present, the law says.
Tock’s attorneys say hundreds of motorists have been issued “illegal” red-light tickets in Stone Park.
When Tock contested his $100 fine at traffic court, the ticket was immediately dismissed, no argument on his part necessary, his attorneys say.
In the lawsuit, his attorneys say many drivers paid the fine because they don’t know the law or how easy it is to have the tickets dismissed. They also noted attending traffic court requires a driver’s investment of personal time and resources.
The village of Stone Park and its police department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Fioretti said municipalities like Stone Park that issue such “erroneous” tickets are “money-hungry.”
“What we’ve seen here is a system of government no longer relying on true traffic enforcement and use of police officers out there,” Fioretti said. “This becomes a money-making proposition for villages.”
“They’re looking for ways to raise revenue,” he said. “But it’s all on the backs of citizens, and individuals in those municipalities, and they’re doing it through red-light cameras.”