Speeding Ticket Schemes

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So, on 28 March, 2015 I was issued a piece of payin’ paper requesting my contribution to the speed tax (aka a “speeding” ticket). I was on the I-294 portion of the Tri-State Tollway in north suburban Cook County, Illinois. Anyone familiar with the Chicago Metro Area (BrentP, help out the uninitiated) knows that traffic routinely runs at 70-80 miles per hour when free flowing on just about every Interstate Highway in the area. The problem is, the speed limit on every Interstate Highway in the area is posted at 55 mph except in the Loop; those sections (I-55, I-90/94, I-290) are posted as low as 45 mph.

As a solution to the grossly under-posted speed limits in the area, State Senator Jim Oberweis (the milk and ice cream guy) sponsored legislation that passed both legislation houses, even overriding the governor’s veto, that increased the statutory maximum speed limit on all Interstate Highways across Illinois from 65 to 70 mph while simultaneously lowering the threshold of Class B Misdemeanor Speeding from 31 to 26 mph or more in excess of the speed limit.  The intent was to get speed limits on the Interstates everywhere in the state more in line with traffic flow and speed limits in surrounding states (IN, KY, MO & IA… WI is still 65 mph).

On 1 January, 2014 the new law went into effect and the speed limit signs across the state on Interstate Highways reflected the new maximum except in the Chicago Metro Area, where the speed limits remained at 55 mph. Further complicating things is that at the same time, misdemeanor speeding in the area was now 81 mph instead of 86 mph. You can bet the farm that the ISP, and the county sheriffs’ departments from Lake, Cook, Will, Dupage, McHenry and Kane Counties enforced the new misdemeanor speeding with either the same or more fervor as they did the old. The justification Pat Quinn (then governor), the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority aka Illinois Tollway aka ISTHA was that there are other factors that make a 70 mile per hour speed limit in the Chicago Metro Area too unsafe and that 55 mph was the safe maximum.

While some may be inclined to take out a loan to purchase that bridge Quinn, IDOT and ISTHA were selling, Oberweis didn’t buy it, and neither have I. In response, Oberweis et al did a take two and passed clarifying legislation, effective 1 January 2015, requiring an engineering and traffic investigation to back up a lower speed limit on any road under the jurisdiction of IDOT or ISTHA. Further, any lower speed limit on a highway under the jurisdiction of ISTHA not only has to be supported by the investigation, IDOT must concur, IN WRITING, with the lower speed regulation promulgated by the ISTHA for said highway.

As of this writing, the speed limits remain at 55 mph.

My recent research, spurred by my receipt of a shakedown backed up by the threat of death, has revealed that at least since September 2013, ISTHA has known that free flowing traffic on Interstates under its jurisdiction is right around 70-75 mph according to a report released by Regina Webster & Associates, Inc. (RWA), 8619 W Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL, 773-283-2600.  Further, even after adjusting the recommended speed limit as far down as possible when factoring in allowances according to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), adopted as law at the federal level and required to be adopted as law in any state that receives federal funds for highways within its borders, RWA still recommended that the speed limit on the Chicago Metro Area Interstate Highways be 65 mph. So the 64 billion dollar question is: WHY ARE THE SPEED LIMITS STILL 55 MPH ON INTERSTATES IN THE CHICAGO METRO AREA?

The short answer: REVENUE.  The speed limits are grossly under-posted because it is a very reliable revenue stream.  According to the report released by RWA for the ISTHA in September 2013, the projected violation rate on just I-294 if the speed limit remained at 55 mph (which it did) would be 96%.  That translates to nearly 100,000 violators a day based on then travel density calculations.  Currently, a speed violation on an Interstate Highway in the Chicago Metro Area is $120 for 1-19 mph over the speed limit and $140 for 20-25 mph over the speed limit.  I haven’t researched the cost of 26 mph or more over the speed limit, however it is a mandatory court appearance and a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by jail time if the court so decides to pass down such a sentence.  Speeding of 25 mph or less over the speed limit doesn’t require a court appearance and can be resolved by what is called “court diversion.”  Court diversion is a program by which a defendant can pay the applicable fine, pay $20 extra dollars, take a 4 or 8 hour traffic school course and submit to court supervision (be on probation with a probation officer and all) for four months. If successfully completed, the case is dismissed and nothing is reported to the secretary of state. So maximum monetary cost for “no court appearance required” tickets is $160, far less than most individuals in the Chicago Metro Area earns in a day.

This revenue stream scheme has the potential to net between $1920 and $2560 per officer per day, assuming he or she writes two tickets per hour for an eight hour shift and each ticket is between $120 (speeding 1-19 mph over with straight guilty plea) and $160 (speeding 20-25 mph over with traffic school).  This translates to between $480,000 and $630,000 per officer per year (assuming a 5 day work week and a 50 week work year, allowing for two weeks of vacation).  As you can see, the under posted speed limits have the potential to translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue per officer per year and multiple millions of dollars when factoring in the hundreds of “radar wranglers” employed in the Chicago Metro Area.  And remember, NONE of these calculations have factored in the increased costs of insurance premiums, if the Insurance Mafia gets wind of the technical foul (court diversion traffic school attempts to mitigate that factor, but one can only qualify for traffic school once per 12 months, so any second or subsequent offense and the Secretary of State WILL rat you out to the Insurance Mafia).

If you are so inclined as to fight the damned ticket, the cost of fighting one ticket includes at least one day of lost wages for your trial date ($160 if your hourly wage is $20 working day shift), the cost of subpoenaing witnesses, subpoenaing records, making copies, serving subpoenas, paying witness fees, and any additional lost wages due to a requirement to attend any motion hearings for any motions you may file (such as a motion to suppress, motion for a bill of particulars, or a motion for a list of witnesses). If you fight the ticket and lose, you could be assessed an additional $125 to $160 in court costs.  So although the cost of the ticket is substantial, it is quite easy to see why most people will just pay it without much fuss considering the much higher potential cost of fighting.  Even if you win, more likely than not you have paid out as much or more than the original cost of the ticket in mounting an effective defense against the charge; the only savings realized is the higher insurance premiums you won’t have to pay.

In my situation, I have decided to fight the ticket.  I have already lost one day of wages ($174) in order to get on the motion call calendar to file my three pretrial motions, paid out $75 in witness fees, plus over $50 in gas, travel, and FOIA request fees, not to mention the day of wages I will lose on the trial date.  My consolation is that the “Geico-bino” Mafia family won’t get any extra money from me, the state won’t get any of the money I spent, the feeling I will feel once I win my case, and I have uncovered a scam that at least one Illinois State Senator is quite interested in squashing.

I am not sure I would have standing as a Wisconsin resident to do so, especially if I win my pending case, but if not, I strongly urge the residents of Illinois to sue the IDOT and ISHTA, forcing them to follow the law they so zealously claim to enforce against “safety” violators, and to force them to pay punitive damages to all individuals that were ever wrongly convicted of violating unlawfully enacted speed regulations.

I am no fan of the initiation of force, however I certainly wouldn’t bat an eye if the writings of the ramblings of old windbags in a building in the middle of the state, meant to be used to forcibly extract money from peaceful individuals, came back to bite a group of bastard bureaucrats square in their asses.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. I will be mounting a campaign (to include a lawsuit against the Illinois Tollway, among others) to get the stupid speed limit laws changed to match reality. I am beginning with the Chicago, IL area since that is close to home. I started a Go Fund Me page (http://www.gofundme.com/v2tsme6k) to help offset costs on this long journey. Please donate if you can, or direct others to the page to donate for this worthy cause. Thanks everyone!

    • I also should mention, in regards to my speeding ticket case, the motion to suppress that I filed really raised some eyebrows when I went to court May 12th. First, the judge on the case “cautioned” the prosecutor on the case to “really read” the motion because I make some “compelling arguments.” Before the judge used code words to get the dingbat prosecutor to take “time” to think about how to prosecute the case, she was quite “prepared” to proceed. After re-reading the motion at the judge’s urging, she first offered to strike a deal where I pay a $6 fine (plus $194 in costs) for court diversion traffic school and 4 months of supervision with a complete dismissal (no record) if both are successfully completed. When I declined, suddenly my case was continued for two months so that the state has time to prepare a written response to my motion (notwithstanding the fact I filed my motion three weeks prior to this hearing, plenty of time for the state to prepare a written response). Also, I was approached by a defense attorney present in the court room asking for an explanation of my arguments he heard the judge call compelling. I was also approached by another defendant requesting that I be his attorney. Looks like from where I am standing, the state is none to confident in it’s ability to prosecute this case successfully.

      • MP, you didn’t roll over. They didn’t expect that. We no longer have trials by jury. They normally pile on so many charges you’ll just plead to a lesser one. If, like me, you call bullshit, they bring in the feds and unless you’re uber wealthy or connected, you don’t have a prayer. Guilt or lack thereof has nothing to do with the Just Us system, hence the Just Us moniker. All my best to you. You’re courageous for your stance.

        • Yeah, Eight. I remember reading it’s something like half a percent of cases ever make it to trial in the first place (settlements and plea bargains, all packaged to appear in the best interest of the clients that are really jackpots for the lawyers involved, are the rule). In my own case, I made an oral jury demand on my hearing date and the judge said sure, for $250. The prosecutor vehemently objected saying that it’s a “petty offense” to which there is no right to trial by jury. Never mind that the Illinois Constitution at Art I Sect. 13 states “The right of a trial by jury as heretofore enjoyed shall remain inviolate.” Also, 725 ILCS 5/103-6 states ” Every person accused of an offense shall have the right to a trial by jury unless (i) understandingly waived by defendant in open court or (ii) the offense is an ordinance violation punishable by fine only and the defendant either fails to file a demand for a trial by jury at the time of entering his or her plea of not guilty or fails to pay to the clerk of the circuit court at the time of entering his or her plea of not guilty any jury fee required to be paid to the clerk.” My alleged violation is of a STATE STATUTE, not a municipal ordinance, so of course I will file a written demand for a jury trial WITHOUT FEE. It is insulting to the point of almost sickening just how ill-informed most court personnel believe pro se litigants are and how ill-informed most court personnel ACTUALLY are.

  2. As a Chicago native…just wanted you to know that we always call Cook County C(r)ook County. This article should answer the question as to why. It gets better…the tolls were supposed to go away once the roads were paid for but the Toll Authority did not want to give up the cushy jobs and plush offices. They did an “end run” around the law by saying the tolls remain to maintain the roads.

    http://abc7chicago.com/archive/8327185/

    • I do it by habit but for wider audiences I try to limit how often I refer to it as the county of c(r)ook. What the tollway authority does is decide the users of the existing system have to pay for expansions elsewhere. So it’s always a shell game.

  3. Humanity still believes in all the same stuff it always did. It just gets repackaged and people don’t recognize it is the same thing. People find what happened in the past appalling but they cheer for the same things today with different decoration. There’s no chained slavery today but debt slavery is fine. There’s no human or animal sacrifice for good weather but instead animals are sacrificed to wind turbines and people through making energy more expensive to bring us good weather/climate. The USA today is the same as the Roman empire was. People spending their time with the games, the foreign wars, the taxation, the welfare, etc.

    So let me say my hope for the future after the collapse of statism isn’t exactly high. The sociopaths will find new ways to repackage their same old manipulations and that will be that. The only question is will the short transitional period be one of liberty or of the jungle?

    • BrentP, ever seen Cosmopolis the movie? In one scene in the big limo the main character speaks to his cohort and they speak of anarchy. At first it sounds totally wrong when it’s said anarchist want to destroy and that’s creation in itself. But what’s said afterward makes some sense, esp. when speaking of old business models being tossed and new ones added and old ones made new again under a different guise. The anarchy statement makes more sense then but I don’t agree with it specifically and doubt you would either. But what they say about capitalism constantly changing the things that make money aren’t far off.

      Watch it, draw your own conclusions. I was surprised to hear anything even remotely close to accuracy in describing how society and laws are changing. A Disclaimer, you won’t agree with everything said but maybe it’s a new thought for the audience it’s intended for.

  4. In the county of cook the traffic school fee is $27 for the four hour and $49 for the eight hour. Bringing such 25 over speeding tickets to $167 and $189 respectfully. This is the cheapest way out. Even in time costs. The traffic school is a wonderful world of cloverian nonsense and cleverly worded lessons to get people to surrender their rights.

    The last ticket I fought where I went to trial was where I was at a poorly designed intersection. I crossed the cross walk on green and therefore was legally allowed to proceed however the traffic light visibility is confusing and the threshold of the intersection is 40+ feet away from the cross walk. The yellow signal is also 2.9s and below standards. This intersection violated Illinois law in a number of ways and still largely does.

    I was traveling 15mph. Hence I as through the crosswalk on green but into the intersection on red. This means I did not violate the law. But had no video camera then. (the lesser reason for getting a camera, I encountered the road raging cop shortly after this) Fighting this ticket, a good 8 years ago now, saw the judge up the fine to the max plus court costs. The judge and the rest of the kangaroos claimed the parking lot drive I was on was a road. They would not accept the laws I introduced. I left the court saying if it’s a road I’ll drive 30mph on it, the default speed limit because there were no signs and they pretended to believe 15mph was unbelievably slow. I didn’t return to that town for many weeks. When I did, there were 15mph speed limits on the private parking lot drive. Magically! For preceding dozen years they weren’t there but after I fought a ticket, and wrote the city government about it, the signs appeared. Guess they didn’t want me driving 30mph there legally. (I wasn’t going to, it was j

    I fought a BS speeding ticket in another town and won that, but I had three layers of defense (in the law) and was assigned to the county of lake which was easier to fight in. The cop did not show and it was dismissed.

    When I was a victim of a roadraging driver on a bicycle I got to see traffic court in lake county operate. Everyone knew each other personally. The judges, the bailiffs, the cops, the prosecutors, and most of the defense lawyers. Listening to them talk in the morning was most the educational thing about the system. No ticket advise or anything else will tell you about this. These people are co-workers in the same system. This means we are there to pay someone in the system. How much and how it is divided is a negotiation. Combined with my other education above I figured out the only real defense is to buy membership in the club through a lawyer. However this costs more than the ticket until maybe now.

    Have you seen the billboards on I-294? A national lawyer outfit, the ticket clinic has come to NE Illinois. Supposedly reducing lawyer fees to as little as $50. It was $300 last I shopped around. At $50 it’s worth it to pay for a temporary friend membership in the club that will make the ticket go away. Not sure how long this save-on-volume outfit will last here.

  5. So economically speaking, we’re still on the route of “$2/bullet < $2-5,000 in costs which don't stop the parasite class anyway."

    They have initiated force; we're fools if we don't respond. You hear the snake's rattle, you back the F up, or kill the snake. We've BEEN backing up, they've BEEN pursuing us…. Running out of options here….

    • Jean, you are absolutely right but the time was 20 years ago before they had universal cameras and efficient computer based collaboration. You want to be a victor, not a martyr. We are not running out of options, we ARE out of options. Back when the vast majority was calling us active libertarians dangerous kooks and nutjobs for not trusting their government.

      If you are willing to spend your life, and every man has that personal line where he will take no more, then please consider lesser sacrifices. If necessary take as many of the bad guys as possible with you.

      Until that time, consider simply refusing to pay the fines and answer the summons. When they send you to jail, go. It is costing the system propaganda points every time it cages a driver, a man who refuses to pay child support welfare tax, a gun carrier, a tax resister.

      When they run out of jails and destroy the currency trying, they will turn to mass murder. This is the bitter reality, and until they do resort to mass murder most folks will continue in the false hope that it can be fixed by voting in better people.

      Remember that our militias are gone, replaced by a decentralized, disorganized, ineffective mass of angry men. The black hats have managed to vilify them with propaganda, and spread the meme that the cops being outgunned by the people was somehow a bad thing.

      There is a very effective and brutal standing army of occupation in place, and until the propaganda loses enough hold, it won’t be getting any better. There are also lots and lots of secret police. The Ge Sta Po is very much alive and well and still believe fervently in what they are doing.

      You might consider becoming an insider, both for your peace of mind and for the opportunity to spread disease through the evil body. If you do this, watch your soul carefully, it is easy to lose in there.

      The french resistance in nazi germany, the anti communist partisans in the east, and the American revolution couldn’t happen today because of the efficient surveillance. This is not a good thing for the human race, but the shortsighted fools currently holding the whip cannot envision themselves ever on the stinging end of it. All that the future holds is anarchy- a fools paradise of bleak survival choices.

      The pity of it all is that government and law are a necessary evil. But the arrogance and hubris of the kind of people who aspire to government knows no bounds. America was a great place once, while there were places to escape to and ways of doing justice to the system. Those are gone now and we have the most horrific communist police state the world has ever known. And the mask is coming off because they figure they have won.

      And if you work, you are forced to support it.

      • Ernie – a well thought out post, I agree w/most of it.
        2 small bones:
        “our militias are gone, replaced by a decentralized, disorganized, ineffective mass of angry men” Well, the militias may be gone, but they have been replaced by the National Guard, with a command structure leading to DC rather than ending locally.
        “The pity of it all is that government and law are a necessary evil” – says who? Law, in the sense of morality, may be necessary, but it is not evil. It is law ENFORCEMENT, especially of ‘positive’ law, that is evil.

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