Illinois Supreme Court Strikes Down Police Agency Ticket Quota Program

In POLICEMEN’S BENEVOLENT LABOR COMMITTEE, Appellee, v. THE CITY OF SPARTA, 2020 IL 125508, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the town of Sparta’s traffic ticket program for its’ police officers. The Sparta police department’s union sued over the city’s activity-points policy used for evaluating the performance of its police officers. The policy required all full-time officers to meet a monthly point minimum, based on actions that include issuing citations, making traffic stop warnings and taking on extra duty assignments.

The case was originally heard by the 5th district appellate court, which struck down the policy. The case was then appealed to the state supreme court, which upheld the 5th district’s opinion that the quota policy violated Illinois law. The law, undert the Illinois Municipal Code, that the police union argued was being violated states: ““A municipality may not require a police officer to issue a specific number of citations within a designated period of time … A municipality may not, for purposes of evaluating a police officer’s job performance, compare the number of citations issued by the police officer to the number of citations issued by any other police officer who has similar job duties.”

In the lawsuit, the city of Sparta argued that the policy did not violate the law because it does not mandate officers to write a specific number of citations during a certain period of time, and that officers could meet the monthly minimum without writing any citations.

The supreme cout disagreed stating in the opinion: ““The (Illinois Municipal Code), as it is currently written, expressly prohibits that practice, and the (code) must be enforced as written.” 

We will see if the city of Sparta and/or other police departments go back to the state legislature to lobby for a change in municipal code.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Annual Highway Report Ranks Illinois Roads 37th

According to the 2020 “Annual Highway Report” prepared by the Reason Foundation, Illinois’ roads ranked as the 37th worst in the country. The study factors pavement condition, traffic congestion, structurally deficient bridges, traffic fatalities, and spending per mile. Illinois ranks 32nd in structurally deficient bridges, 32nd in urban interstate pavement condition, and 42nd in capital and bridge costs per mile. Its worst category performance was traffic congestion, ranking 49th.

The only category that doesn’t surprise me is that Illinois ranks 49th in traffic congestion. That is easy to see for someone who lives in the Chicago area as we see traffic jams on our highways in and around the city everyday and just about all hours. Let’s hope that the completion of the 290/94 interchange construction will relieve some of that congestion.

Fortunately Illinois ranks fairly high regarding traffic safety. The state ranks 15th in overall fatality rate, 16th in rural fatality rate, and 22nd in urban fatality rate.

Let’s hope that the safety continues to improve and that the state can improve when it comes to categories like congestion and pavement conditions.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

DuPage County Closes Traffic Courts Through End Of Year

Covid-19 cases are rising at a dramatic pace in Illinois. We have seen a steep rise in the number of cases and in the positivity rate throughout the state. The DuPage County Chief Judge Daniel Guerin announced that they are taking steps to stop the spread of the virus by shutting down its’ traffic courts through December 31, 2020. The Chief Judge released the following regarding the shutdown: “In order to protect the health and safety of court employees and the general public, we decided that continuing traffic matters through the end of this year was the responsible and prudent step to take in response to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.”

The Downers Grove satellite court room and the two court rooms at the main courthouse in Wheaton. Cases will be rescheduled to dates at least 28 business days from their current dates. The court clerk will send notices via mail.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Mayor Lightfoot’s Budget Proposal Includes New Speed Camera Fine

Last week Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced her 2021 city budget. As usual, there was quite a bit of anticipation, but more so this year due to shortfalls that have come with the Covid-19 pandemic.

One interesting proposal includes a new speed camera fine that would ticket drivers going 6 mph over the speed limit. Speed cameras were originally introduced by pervious mayor, Rahm Emanual. They were implemented with a lot of skepticism despite Emanual’s repeated statements that they were implemented for safety reasons only. He was adamant that they were not a money grab for the city. Lightfoot has stated the same: speeding is “clearly a public safety issue” and stricter speed enforcement was necessary to keep motorists and pedestrians safe. She said “exponentially” more “speed-related accidents and deaths” in 2020 was the justification for the new ticket standard, which would start with a warning followed by a $35 ticket for a repeat offense.

This is interesting as data published by the Chicago Tribune , indicates that so far this year there are 20,000 less car crashes in the city compared to this time last year. There have been 28 more Chicago traffic fatalities this year compared to this time in 2019.

I think it is clear that the mayor is doing everything she can to come up with money for the budget shortfalls. I don’t necessarily blame her. But be aware as you’re driving around the city. There may be a camera tracking you and you may receive a ticket in the mail. Speeding, even slightly, could cost you money.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago car accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Teen Driving Deaths Down Drastically In Illinois

According to Illinois Secretary of State, teen traffic fatalities have decreased by 74% since 2007. According to data recently released to the media, there were 41 Illinois teen traffic deaths in 2019 and 48 in 2018. This is compared to 155 in 2007.

Why are they comparing the last two years to 2007? Well, in 2008 Illinois introduced the “graduated driver license” or the GDL, which includes three phases. The first phase is the “permit phase” for 15-year olds, followed by the “initial licensing phase” for 16-17 year olds. Then comes the final “full licensing phase” for those 18-20.

Here is what Illinois Secretary of State had to say about GDLs and the improved numbers: “The goal has always been to save lives. While our graduated driver licensing (GDL) program is working as intended with teen driving deaths decreasing, there is still more work to be done. My hope is that with hard work and continued open communication between my office, teens, parents and driver education teachers, teen fatalities will continue to decline.”

I am impressed by these numbers. The main reason is that the year this law went into effect, was the same time period the I-phone was introduced, which was the same time that the distracted driving epidemic began. We have to give the Illinois legislature and the Secretary of State’s office their credit as this GDL program seems to be working as slowly prepares young people with the training, skill and confidence to drive safely. Let’s hope this trend continues.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago car accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Inspector General Rips City’s Traffic Light Management

The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week on local Inspector General, Joe Ferguson’s, blistering report about multiple traffic management inssues within the city. The report states, in part, ““Rather than proactively maintaining and retiming traffic signals, [the city] conducts most of its work in response to 311 complaints, aldermanic requests and major construction projects,” the report concluded. “This approach to maintenance limits [Chicago’s] ability to address problems before they become hazardous or unnecessarily expensive to repair.”

The report also states that the traffic light management in Chicago is woefully understaffed. Chicag has four traffic signal engineers while federal recommendations say it should have 28, the report said. Also, Chicago has 27 traffic signal technicians, compared with a federal recommendation of 71.

This is not encouraging news for several reasons. First, this report reveals the lack of progress needed to meet previous mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Vision Zero” plan, which aimed at eliminated all pedestrian fatalities. Second, based on the city’s response, there doesn’t appear to be any urgent plan to correct these issues due to budgetary deficites. There were plans to install monitoring technology to 229 intersections, but that has been put on hold and will implemented over the next several decades.

I would like to wait and see Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s response to this report before casting too much blame. She has only been in office for a year and has had to respond to a global pandamic, protests and riots. I believe she will respond, but this was not a good report. Based on earlier budget decisions, it appeared that Lightfoot was focused on decreasing traffic congestion and making our streets safer for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. This report sheds light on issues that need to be addressed before the city can fully say they are committed to improving traffic safety, decreasing congestion and pollution. The ball is in her court.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Car Crashes Have Been More Severe During Covid-19 Shutdown

As many would suspect traffic is way down during the Covid-19 shutdown. There have been an estimated 70% less Chicago car accidents since the shelter in place order began in mid March. This comes as no surprise due to the lack of motorists on the road. Regardless, according to a personal injury attorney, we have seen an increase in the severity of Chicago car crashes. This has also led to the increase of people contacting personal injury law firm attorneys for guidance. If you have unfortunately gotten into a crash and need a quick repair, then consider going to this collision repair services for assistance that way you can get the proper auto repair, but for smaller incidents you can go to a professional paintless dent repair service for quick assistance.

According to some personal injury lawyers Northwestern’s study, found that after the stay-at-home order went into effect, the percentage of incapacitating or fatal crashes ticked up. “You had so much less traffic,” said NUTC Director Hani Mahmassani. “That was so unusual. You’re so used to driving very slowly on Chicago streets, so when you had that, people’s natural instinct was to speed up.” According to a car accident attorney, car accident cases have picked up not only in Chicago but throughout the country.

Chicago and the state of Illinois are not alone with these numbers and according to many personal injury attorney firms, “In some states, anywhere from 50% to 70% less miles (are driven), but the fatalities are up,” said NSC President and CEO Lorraine Martin. “We really need to get to the root cause and understand what the behavior is that’s causing this kind of disturbing spike in very severe crashes were owners have need the help from smash repairs Doncaster to take they cars out again.”

Why the increase in traffic fatalities and severe injuries? A personal injury attorney believes drivers feel at liberty to drive at excessive speeds as very few others are on the road. Local Chicago officials believe they have seen an uptick in speeders since the shutdown. According to this personal injury lawyer the Chicago Department of Transportation warned of a 14% of increases speeders on city roadways. The Chicago Police Department and Illinois State Police said they’ve increased visibility and have some targeted patrol efforts. But Martin says road safety doesn’t just fall on law enforcement.

Even if there are less drivers on the road, it is important to stay vigilant and aware of others on the road. There are many who believe they can speed and drive recklessly when no one else is out there.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Red Light Camera Violations Down Amid Coronavirus

Red light cameras have been a topic I have written about numerous times on this site. according to a personal injury lawyer the issue has been often criticized by the media and academics alike. The characters behind the contracts with the city of Chicago have been put in jail for fraud, all the while multiple studies have shown they bring almost no positive safety impact on the intersections where the lights are placed.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandamic outbreak, which led to a shelter-in-place throughout the state, the Illinois house of representatives passed a bill that would have outlawed red light cameras. That bill never had a chance to reach the Senate as the state legislature closed down like most businesses.

Regardless, red light cameras are still in effect in Chicago and throughout Illinois. The Chicago Sun Times reported last week that red light camera violations are down 45% in March compared to February 2020. And compared to March 2019, red-light violations in Chicago were down 54%, numbering just 19,840 in March 2020 compared to 42,812 in March 2019. “At this time, we are seeing a nationwide trend of fewer citations overall, driven by the lower amount of traffic on the roads,” said Neil Franz, a spokesman for Conduent State & Local Solutions Inc., the vendor that operates Chicago’s red-light cameras.This is no surprise as motor vehicle traffic is way down since the shelter-in-place order took effect in mid-march. I have not seen any numbers for April yet.

As I have written multiple times in the past, I do not see any benefit of red light cameras other than a money grab for local governments. Studies have been performed by engineers and traffic experts that conclude there is no beneficial safety impact for having red light cameras in place. What is the point of having these in place if they do not make our intersections safer? I hope that when the Illinois legislature is back in session (presumably this Fall), they take up this bill again and outlaw these cameras foreever.

If you or loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Police Conduct Roadside Stops Based On Stay At Home Order

The Chicago Police announced this week that they would be conducting roadside safety checks pertaining to the “stay at home order” issued by Governor JB Pritzker. The “stay at home order” was issued due to the outbreak of the Covid – 19 virus. The “stay at home” order lasts until April 30.

I interpret this as something similar to a DUI checkpoint that police often set up to prevent drinking and driving. DUI checkpoints, which are random stops of vehicles primarily on weekend nights, have been ruled as constitutional as the public safety concern outweighs the 4th amendment search and seizure protections. It seems the Chicago Police are using the same reasoning behing this type of roadside stop as they don’t want people out on the road who don’t need to be.

The Governor’s order provided the following exceptions for essential travel outside of homes:

-Performing essential activities, governmental functions, business and operations

-Caring for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities or other vulnerable persons

-Receiving materials for distance learning, receiving meals and any other related services from an educational institution.

-Returning to a place of residence from outside of jurisdiction

-Following the direction of law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement

-Returning to a place of residence outside the state for non-resident

The announcement did not state how long these roadside checks would last or where exactly in the city they would set up. I’d imagine they would set up on busy roadways like Lakeshore Drive and/or busy exits on and off the Eisenhower and Kennedy.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-1614-1076 or go to www.blgchicago.com

Safe Driving Is More Important Than Ever

Forbes magazine published an interesting article this week stressing the importance of safe driving during these perilous times. The crux of the article was that our healthcare systems cannot possibly keep up with serious injuries and other maladies that may come to their emergency rooms due to things like car accidents. Hospitals in certain parts of the country are already working at capacity due to the coronavirus epidemic. If you are unfortunately involved in a car accident and get injured, then you may need to contact a personal injury lawyer for legal assistance.

According to car accident attorneys, there is a high importance of safe driving during this crucial period where many areas of the country are hitting their peak of coronavirus patients. According to the Global Alliance for NGO for road safety: “Hospitals and emergency services cannot manage road crash victims as they struggle to cope with the pandemic and governments are working hard to contain the virus.”

This means that if you must get into your car, put your phone down and focus on the road. And more importantly, do not get behind the wheel if you have been drinking. According to an auto accident attorney it is incredibly important to be vigilant while driving and to try your best to avoid traffic accidents and injuries if you have to take your car out. Contact a personal injury lawyer if you have unfortunately been injured in a car accident.

The article also pointed out that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(“NHTSA”) has cancelled many of their annual traffic safety programs due to the coronavirus including Heat Stroke Awareness, Click It or Ticket, and Distracted Driving campaigns.  They are also postponing National Distracted Driving Awareness month from April to another month later this year. Regardless, I think it is critical that we all take extra precautions when we go out for a drive so that we can help soften the load for our first responders, emergency workers, doctors and nurses. They need our help more than ever and that starts by staying home or, at the very least, being careful behind the wheel, but if you do happen to get injured, then don’t hesitate to call a personal injury lawyer.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago accident lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.