SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS – When a suburban man with 60 traffic tickets smashed his Ferrari into another car, killing the driver, her 4-year-old son and himself in 2005, state and local officials responded by tightening loopholes in state traffic laws to make sure police and prosecutors have up-to-date information and can get problem drivers off the streets.
But now, some local lawmakers and prosecutors fear those efforts could be undermined by the growing interest in letting cameras enforce speed limits.
The problem, some say, is those speed-camera tickets wouldn’t get reported to the state as long as the driver pays the $100 fine. As a result, drivers who normally would risk losing their licenses would keep driving.
“You can’t have a system where you have ticket after ticket and just pay a fine. There has to be some kind of reporting to the secretary of state,” said DuPage County State’s Attorney Joseph Birkett.
A plan pending in the state Senate would allow cities and villages to contract with camera companies to remotely issue speeding tickets.
DuPage County created a computer program designed to correlate driving records from Illinois’ 102 counties to prevent repeatedly ticketed drivers from qualifying for court supervision. The program was developed after the tragic 2005 crash in West Chicago that prompted outrage from the victim’s family and the public at how the speeding driver was able to keep his license so long.
Because speed-camera violators would not be reported to the secretary of state unless the driver failed to pay five speed-camera tickets, DuPage’s database would become far less useful, Birkett said.
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