DOWNTOWN — Chicago's first speed cameras were supposed to begin issuing $35 and $100 tickets last week.
But the city has decided to give drivers a short, several-weeks reprieve before the first violations with fines start going out in the mail.
The city's first two speed-enforcement cameras installed near Gompers Park (4100 W. Foster Ave. and 5100 N. Pulaski Road) on the Northwest Side, began their requisite 30-day period on Aug. 26. During that month, warning notices were mailed to drivers exceeding the speed limit by 6 mph or more.
According to city officials, that warning period ended Sept. 25, and ticketing could have begun the next day. But even though warning notices have stopped being mailed, tickets have not been issued yet.
Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office, said the city decided to delay issuing violations with fines to make sure drivers who were issued warning notices had received them.
"We are not issuing tickets until there has been ample time for all warnings issued during the first 30 days of a camera placement to be delivered, and we are sure drivers have had a chance to be notified of potential violations," said McCaffrey.
"We feel that drivers should be afforded the opportunity to change their driving habits before taking enforcement action, but our goal is for motorists to always drive safely and under the posted speed limit," he said.
While Illinois law and the Chicago municipal code do not require a delay between the warning period and when ticketing can begin, city officials have decided to make this change a permanent policy for every speed camera installation.
"The delay will range from two to three weeks, and will be in place for each of the camera systems that are installed," said McCaffrey. "The Department of Transportation will notify the public several days in advance of the start of enforcement."
The two cameras adjacent to Gompers Park are in Ald. Margaret Laurino's 39th Ward. Laurino was supportive of the cameras and said constituents are happy to have them in the ward to reduce speeding.
"She's fine with what we'll call a 'grace period,'" said Laurino spokesman Manuel Galvan. "She would prefer we collected no fines, so that drivers do the speed limit. Our goal is not to collect revenue; our goal is to get people to slow down and follow the law."
But Scott Davis, who's actively fought the city's red-light camera and speed camera programs as a coordinator for Cook County Campaign for Liberty said he doesn't think this move by the city will change people's view on the speed cams.
"This isn't going to do anything to make people feel better about getting these ridiculous tickets," said Davis. "You can't wave a magic wand and tell people they'll like the speed cameras — it's just not going to work. There's going to be a visceral reaction of hatred of this."
CDOT recently announced the locations of 50 speed cameras scheduled to be installed by the end of the year. Chicago law allows for as many as 350 cams to be installed around the city.
Drivers going 6-10 mph over the limit will be fined $35, and those exceeding the speed limit by 11 mph or more will have to pay $100.
Enforcement hours around schools will be 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, while speed limits near parks will be enforced by the cameras from 6 a.m. - 11 p.m. seven days a week.
The city expects to generate $20 million to $30 million in revenue from the cameras in just the last three months of this year.