Your Chicago Bankruptcy Lawyer
The city of Chicago desperately needs revenue to balance its budget. One of the ways it does this is by aggressively issuing citations for parking, redlight, and other camera violations. In fact, the city of Chicago issues over 1 million parking tickets in the first half of 2022. Our bankruptcy lawyers have seen this first hand in Chicago.
If you live in Chicago, you are likely aware of this. Having unpaid tickets with the city of Chicago can quickly escalate. When a ticket goes unpaid or uncontested, the amount of the ticket increases drastically resulting in the city charging penalties and fees. To collect on this debt, there are numerous avenues available to the city. The City can boot and impound your car, garnish your wages, take your tax refund, among others.
Although the city offers payment plans, they aren’t feasible. These plans require a large lump sum payment up front and normally result in default. Luckily, filing for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help with this. In this blog, we will discuss the ticketing process in Chicago and how bankruptcy can help you get rid of this debt. At DebtPros, our bankruptcy lawyers are here to help.
What is the Ticketing Process in Chicago?
Chicago has street cameras just about everywhere. City employees constantly check parking meters to see if you paid for parking. If you violate one of its parking or camera laws, you will be issued a ticket that varies based on the infraction. The person liable is the registered owner of the vehicle, not the person driving. Therefore, I always advise my clients not to let others drive their cars.
For camera citations involving speeding, the fine is $100.00 if you were driving over 11 MPH. Once you receive the violation, you have seven (7) days from the date of issuance to either contest or pay the ticket. If you do not do either, you will receive a second notice of violation via mail allowing you twenty-one (21) days to request a hearing. Essentially, you have twenty-five (25) days to either contest or pay the ticket.
Absent a response to the notice of violation, the city issues a notice of determination stating that you have a specific amount of time to appear in person to set aside the default judgment. Once that period has lapsed, you lose your right to contest it and will be assessed late penalties.
The process for parking tickets is similar and the amount of the fine varies. You have twenty-five (25) days to contest or pay for the ticket. If the ticket goes unpaid, it doubles, and late penalties continue to be assessed until paid. Moreover, having three (3) or more unpaid tickets can lead to your car being booted and impounded. The fee for a boot is $60-$400, towing is $150-$250, and once impounded, storage fees accumulate every day the vehicle is not picked up. However, to retrieve your vehicle, you will have to pay the full amount of the debt plus any boot, towing, and storage fees.
Although the city offers payment plans, many people are unable to come up with the down payment necessary to enter one. Typically, you must pay 50% of the total amount of debt including outstanding fees and penalties up front. There is a hardship payment plan, but even that requires a 25% down payment. If you cannot come up with that kind of money, filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is likely your best option to eliminate the debt and prevent the city from taking anymore legal action against you.
How can Filing for Bankruptcy Help with Unpaid Tickets?
Accumulating tickets in the city of Chicago happens way too often. Luckily, bankruptcy can help with this. Filing for bankruptcy will not only allow you to get your license or vehicle back, but also help eliminate the debt. Once a bankruptcy case is filed, the “automatic stay” prevents the city from taking any legal action against you immediately.
In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, parking and camera tickets are “dischargeable.” This means that you can eliminate the debt in a Chapter 13 case. Chapter 13 involves a payment plan that requires you to pay a certain amount of money per month to pay off your debt. If your car has been impounded or booted by the city, filing Chapter 13 will force the city to return your vehicle to you. It will also prevent the city from suspending your license.
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, tickets owed to the city are not dischargeable. However, the city of Chicago, enacted a “Fresh Start Program.” This program is for Chapter 7 bankruptcy filers only and you must enroll in the program during your case or after you receive a discharge. Under the Fresh Start Program, the city will waive any tickets incurred three (3) years prior to filing. Any tickets within the past three (3) years can be paid pursuant to a payment plan. Unlike the payment plans discussed above, the Fresh Start Program will only require you to pay the base fine over a period of time.
To determine which bankruptcy is right for you, it is best to consult with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Chicago. At DebtPros, we have represented thousands of people in bankruptcy who were struggling with debt owed to the city for parking or camera tickets.
Speak to a Chicago Bankruptcy Lawyer Now!
If you have tickets with the city of Chicago and don’t know what to do, contact us today to speak with one of our qualified bankruptcy lawyers. The consultation is free, and we will help you determine the best course of action to handle your ticket debt with the city of Chicago. Unlike other bankruptcy firms, when you call DebtPros, you will speak directly with an attorney. Call (312) 883-5422 now before your car is impounded or license is suspended.
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