Cell phone violation tickets were handed out to drivers in Chicago in record rates last year, according to figures obtained by The Chicago Tribune. The city gained millions of dollars in revenue thanks to drivers not using hands free devices. A change in the way that the tickets are processed also means that the city no longer has to give a percentage of the great majority of the fines to either the state or to Cook County, resulting in significant losses for both, according to Circuit Court of Cook County clerk Dorothy Brown.
That loss of money could hardly come at a worse time for either the state or the county, with both struggling to try to balance their budgets. The fines are seen as just one more way in which the city is trying to wrest cash from taxpayers, with red light cameras also generating $69 million last year.
Chicago police issued no less than 23,292 tickets to drivers using a new or old cell phone while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle in 2010, the highest amount of citations handed out for the offense in just one year, and an increase of 73 percent from 2006, when the law first went into effect. The 2010 fines amounted to as much as $2.2 million for the city, with the fines, which are hard to fight, having risen from $50 to $500 in the space of five years.