If the settlement is endorsed by the City Council's finance committee Monday and approved by the City Council Wednesday, 1.2 million people who paid fines — but didn't get a chance to contest 1.5 million citations — could get a refund of half of what they paid the city, officials said.
The law in effect from 2010 to 2015 required the city to send drivers a second notice about the violation and given 14 days to pay or contest the ticket before declaring that they were guilty and imposing a $100 fine on tickets not paid on time, officials said.
City officials changed the rules in 2015, and gave drivers who got a ticket — but no second notice giving them a chance to challenge it — an opportunity to challenge the old violations.
The settlement includes a provision that prohibits any of the tickets in question from being used to suspend a driver’s license or to boot a vehicle.
The settlement will send $26.75 million back to drivers who paid their fines between March 2010 and May 2015 and wipes out $12 million owed to the city by motorists. Those eligible for a refund will be notified by mail, officials said.
The city could have been on the hook for $250 million, according to the lawsuit. The settlement was first reported by the Sun-Times.
The settlement was in the "the best interests of the taxpayers," said Chicago Corporation Counsel Ed Siskel.
The city's red-light camera program has long been troubled.
In March, city officials agreed to ticket drivers only if they enter a camera-monitored intersection three-tenths of a second — or more — after the light turns red.
A Northwestern University Traffic Center study found the old rule forced "people to make a split-second decision about whether to brake or go through the intersection" and could have led to rear-end crashes.
In February, the company that installed the red-light cameras at hundreds of intersections will pay Chicago $20 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged the contract was obtained by bribing city officials.