Mayor Lightfoot Proposes Major Changes to City’s Vehicle Ticketing System

Lightfoot Supports State Bill to End Harmful Driver’s License Suspensions; Advocates Hail the Announcement as Major Step Forward

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 23, 2019

PRESS CONTACTS: Jenna Severson (o) 312-368-0310 (jseverson@woodstockinst.org)

CHICAGO, IL – This morning Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced she would support a state bill ending the practice of driver’s license suspension to penalize nonpayment on non-moving vehicle tickets, such as parking tickets. Her support of the License to Work Act (SB 1786 Aquino/ Ammons) is coupled with a proposed City ordinance that would, among other things, increase the affordability of the City’s repayment plans and city sticker costs. 

This announcement follows a June report by the Fines, Fees, and Access Collaborative, in which City Clerk Anna Valencia along with City departments, elected officials, and consumer advocates such as Woodstock Institute, the Chicago Jobs Council, Community Organizing & Family Issues (COFI), Heartland Alliance, and individuals impacted by excessive vehicle ticketing debt proposed recommendations to reform the City’s vehicle ticketing practices.

Woodstock Institute released the following statement about today’s announcement:

“We are pleased to realize a tangible win for Chicagoans who are driven into bankruptcy at alarming rates because of costly parking ticket debt. What Mayor Lightfoot announced today will begin to reverse years of ill-conceived policymaking and tackle an urgent issue facing indebted Chicagoans: the use of driver’s license suspension as a means to collect on parking ticket debt,” said Dory Rand, Woodstock Institute’s President. “What is proposed does not address racial or economic disparities in ticket issuance, so we will continue to monitor practices that may have unintended consequences for Chicago drivers in non-White and low-income neighborhoods who, according to our 2018 Debt Spiral research report, are 40 percent more likely to receive a ticket than drivers from wealthier, Whiter parts of the City.”

The Transit Table, of which Woodstock Institute is a member, released the following statement about today’s announcement:

“Mayor Lightfoot’s commitment to support the License to Work Act is a long-awaited, strong first step in transforming Chicago’s inequitable vehicle ticketing system,” said Eric Halvorson of Chicago Jobs Council, who leads the Transit Table. “For years, the Transit Table advocates have sought an end to the practice of driver’s license suspension as a way to penalize those who cannot pay expensive non-driving tickets, which keeps people out of work and in poverty. Today’s announcement marks a significant victory, and we promise to hold each other accountable to our communities’ needs as we continue to push for equity across all Chicago’s fines, fees, and debt collection practices.”

The Transit Table is a coalition of Illinois’ social service providers, advocates, and other stakeholders working to eliminate transportation barriers that keep people out of work and in poverty. The Transit Table members include, but are not limited to:

  • ACLU of Illinois
  • Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice
  • Chicago Jobs Council
  • Chicago Urban League
  • Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI)
  • Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights
  • Jane Addams Resource Corporation 
  • Revolution Workshop 
  • Shriver Center on Poverty Law
  • Woodstock Institute 

The License to Work Act is also supported by Americans for Prosperity– Illinois.