Mazzochi: Give the Public the Tools to Fight Corrupt Red Light Cameras

After a legislative session that once again stonewalled universal red light camera reform, State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) filed a new round of legislation to give members of the public the right to challenge red light cameras tainted by corruption.  

“For years, Democratic legislators have told the public that they favor red light camera reform, but in private, they work behind the scenes to kill reform legislation because their local governments are addicted to the revenue,” Mazzochi explained. 

Mazzochi has repeatedly called on the Pritzker administration, including the Illinois Department of Transportation, to remove the red light cameras that are associated with federal public corruption indictments, including the one at Route 83 and 22nd street in Oakbrook Terrace. According to prosecutors, former State Senator Martin Sandoval took $250,000 in bribes, including $70,000 in connection to his support for Safespeed, the operators of dozens of suburban red light cameras, including the one in Oakbrook Terrace. 

According to Mazzochi, IDOT refuses to do anything more to end the Route 8/22nd Street camera in her district—which local officials have accused of leading to more traffic accidents, not less—because of the ongoing federal investigation.  In recent months, yet another public official, a former Worth Township Supervisor, pled guilty to a scheme to bribe an Oak Lawn trustee on behalf of the politically connected Safespeed.

State law currently limits the defenses drivers can raise to red light cameras, making them practically impossible to challenge.  Mazzochi’s latest legislation, House Bill 4102, will explicitly allow members of the public given red light camera citations the right to challenge the tickets in court if the cameras in question are “associated with civil or criminal corruption charges.”   Mazzochi reiterated that “when the placement of a red light camera has nothing to do with safety, but involve a cynical revenue grab inextricably linked to public corruption, individuals should have the right to protest them in court, and judges should be empowered to reject these tickets.”  Municipalities around the state have reportedly collected over $1 billion from red light cameras between 2008 and 2018.

Rep. Mazzochi continued, “red light camera systems are emblematic of Illinois government. They’re riddled with corruption, and shine a light on slow bureaucratic processes, and a General Assembly that refuses to act. In the meantime, camera operators and city officials are lining their pockets on the backs of our residents.”

Mazzochi finished by saying, “Illinois government should be interested in rooting out red light cameras as a major source of public corruption. It’s time for Democratic legislators and their leadership to choose: are they on the side of the people or corrupt public officials?  A vote on HB4102 will make that choice clear.”