A recent amendment to Section 11-208.3 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11-208.3), which becomes effective 1/1/11, will provide new grounds for defendants to challenge red light infractions captured by red light cameras. Section 11-208.3, which concerns "Administrative adjudication of violations of traffic regulations concerning the standing, parking, or condition of vehicles and automated traffic law violations," covers, among other infractions, red light camera tickets. Public Act 096-1016 amends 11-208.3 to provide drivers with more due process rights when issued a red light camera ticket. Here are the changes to the Code that will impact Illinois drivers:
- Section 5/11-208.3(b)(3) is amended to require that in municipalities with less than 1 million inhabitants or in counties with less than 3 million inhabitants, a retired or current police officer must review the camera technician's determination that the driver in the photo actually committed an infraction under the Illinois Vehicle Code. The same is true for municipalities with 1 million or more inhabitants or in counties with 3 million or more inhabitants, except that in addition to a retired or current police officer, an unaffiliated technician can also be used to review the first technician's determination of an ordinance violation.
- Section 5/11-208.3(b)(3) is also amended to require that municipalities and counties must not charge an extra fee for the driver exercising her right to an administrative hearing in order to challenge the ticket. This section is also amended to require that municipalities and counties give defendants 25 days following the hearing date to pay any civil penalties resulting from a guilty finding at the hearing.
- Section 5/11-208.6(b-5) is amended to require municipalities and counties to produce the image captured by the red light camera and to make that image accessible to the driver online.
- Section 5/11-208.6(c-5) is amended to prohibit municipalities and counties from issuing red light tickets when the driver comes to a complete stop beyond the stop line or in the crosswalk but fails to enter the intersection, unless pedestrians or bicyclists are crossing the road when the vehicle comes to a stop.
- Section 5/11-208.6(k-3) is amended to require municipalities and counties with one or more red light cameras to provide notice to drivers of the location of the cameras via the municipality or county website.
It should be noted that 5/11-208.3 only applies to "the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair, and Will and to municipalities located within those counties." So if a driver receives a red light camera ticket outside of Cook County or the collar counties, these new amendments to the Code will not apply. These new amendments should restore some added creditability to use of red light cameras, which have angered many drivers because the automated nature of a camera system is too rigid to account for the myriad factual scenarios where drivers lacked criminal intent when running the red light (i.e., the driver was following a slow-moving stream of traffic through an intersection; traffic stalls; and the driver was stuck in the intersection, technically running a red light even though the driver did not intend to).
Now, the amendments to 5/11-208.3 will provide defendants with an opportunity to make additional procedural challenges to red light tickets. Defendants will be able to challenge the tickets on the grounds that 1) the technician's determination was not reviewed by another officer or technician 2) the image of the infraction was not accessible to the defendant online 3) that, even though defendant stopped in the cross walk, he did not enter the intersection 4) and that the municipality or county failed to properly notice defendant of the locations of red light cameras by not posting their locations online. Drivers, and their defense lawyers, will likely welcome these amendments because they add an extra layer of fairness and due process which was not available before 5/11-208.3 was amended.