State's attorney: If you got a 'camera ticket' on I-64, don't pay the fine

News-DemocratMay 23, 2014 

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly, in a 2012 file photo.

TIM VIZER/BND

— The process used to collect fines for tickets issued by laser cameras used to crack down on speeders on Interstate 64 is illegal, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said Friday.

The cameras snap a photo of the vehicle’s license plate as it speeds through work zones, and then a ticket is sent by mail to the person to whom the car is registered.

Kelly said his problem is not with the cameras themselves, or the police department, but with the collection process being used by the company that collects the fines. “There is no basis for them to pay the ticket because they are not in compliance with Illinois Supreme Court rules,” Kelly said.

It’s something East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks disagrees with.

“The city contends that the citations are valid and that the process is proper,” he said.

“The city’s attorney and police chief have been meeting with county officials, including Mr. Kelly, and the county has agreed that the city has the authority to issue the citations. What is at issue is the administrative process of handling the violations once they are issued.”

Kelly said the citations are invalid because they do not conform to uniform citations as is required by the Illinois Supreme Court.

“The citations are not in the correct format, size, or content,” Kelly said. And, the tickets that are being issued say the offense is not a moving violation.

“How can speeding be a non-moving violation?” Kelly said.

Kelley said Illinois statutes allow drivers to have due process of law and have the right to go to court when issued a ticket and that is not being done here.

The cameras were installed in March, and motorists in recent weeks began receiving tickets. Dozens of motorists have angrily complained about the tickets and the fines, some of which are more than $200.

Kelly said his office has been bombarded with calls and emails about the tickets.

About two weeks ago, Kelly asked the city to stop issuing tickets until every aspect of the process is in compliance with the law. So for now, laser camera speeding tickets are not being issued.

“They (motorists) have every right to due process. The ticket company does not have the authority to do what it is doing,” he said.

Kelly said he is working with city to bring every aspect of the process into compliance.

He also said police are doing an excellent job and they should be concerned about speeders on their roads.

Mike Wagner, East St. Louis city attorney, said: “We have been in discussions with the county and the State’s Attorneys office to resolve the issues the State’s Attorney has raised. While the city does not necessarily agree with the county’s position, we are trying to work through this so everything is agreeable to all parties.”

Police Chief Michael Floore said the laser cameras are not a money grab for the city, but a stepped-up effort by the department to increase citizen safety and the safety of police officers who are outside of their vehicles writing tickets.

Signs are posted in work zones along I-64 warning of the presence of laser cameras, however officers have also used hand-held cameras elsewhere in the city.

Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.

Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.

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