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Gavel, symbol of judicial decisions and justice

Today is the last day for motorists in Chicago to have traffic violations they received from red light violations reviewed by a third party, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

With support for the red light camera system at an all-time low in the Windy City, Chicago officials asked Grant Thornton LP, an independent third party, to look over tickets issued after a suspicious spike in red light violations were seen at 12 different Chicago intersections.

Letters were mailed to residents who received red light violations from cameras, generating a total of 3,285 tickets.

A total of 2,953 tickets have been reviewed so far, and roughly 96% have been validated by Grant Thornton LP. Only 4% of tickets in question have resulted in refunds for drivers.

During the review, the responsibility of proving that ticket violations were valid fell upon the city. Drivers were given the benefit of the doubt. A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Transportation noted that the 4% of tickets that were refunded in this review is less than half the amount that were dismissed in court from appeals between 2007 and 2013.

There are 65 traffic tickets handed out every minute in the United States, and more and more local governments are implementing camera-based programs to take over traffic violation watch. Chicago has the largest red light camera enforcement program in the country, and approximately 150 red light cameras have been installed at about 70 different locations throughout the city. The program doesn’t sit well with many residents.

Protesters gathered last Thursday at the intersection of Archer Avenue and Paulina Street, where one of the controversial cameras is located. This particular red light camera has been a point of contention due to its close proximity to Mulberry Playlot Park.

Many view the red light cameras as just another money-making scheme by city officials, arguing that it is a hidden tax. Proponents of the cameras, on the other hand, say it is a valid way to improve motor safety and protect pedestrians, particularly young children in school zones.

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