Will County looks for broader use of construction zone fines

The Will County Sheriff’s department wants to change a state law to give authorities broader use of money they collect in fines stemming from construction zone violations.

Under state law, motorists who are ticketed for speeding in a construction zone face an extra $125 fine, which goes back to the agency that issued the ticket into a Transportation Safety Highway Hire-back fund to hire off-duty police to monitor construction zones. Currently it can only be used to hire officers.

At a recent meeting of the Will County board’s legislative and policy committee, Lt. Robert Contro, of the Will County Sheriff’s Department, suggested that the fines should also be used to buy police equipment, such as radar units, video cameras, computers and squad cars, and materials to educate the drivers about the dangers of speeding in these areas.

State Rep. Al Riley, D-Hazel Crest, told the committee he would be willing to sponsor such legislation in the Legislature this spring.

Local agencies also get a portion of the fines collected for DUI offenses and overweight trucks, and those revenues can be used to buy police equipment to aid in enforcing those laws, said sheriff’s spokesman Ken Kaupas.

Another piece to the puzzle is making sure the fines are being collected and disbursed, he said.

According to state law, fines for speeding in a construction zone are a minimum of $250 for a first offense, with an additional charge of $125, which goes into the Transportation Safety Highway Hire-back fund. For subsequent violations, the fine is a minimum of $750 with an additional charge of $250 for the transportation safety fund.

In 2013, Will County sheriff’s deputies issued 122 citations for speeding in construction zones, but “never got a dime” of the $15,250 it should have received, according to Kaupas.

In 2014, from Jan. 1 through July 7, 190 tickets were issued, but again, no additional revenues were collected. He learned that a former traffic judge in Will County was not assessing the added fine.

“Apparently, there’s a difference of opinion on what the law allowed and what judges would assess,” Kaupas said, adding that he has been assured that this issue has been rectified.

Southtown Star News Article Link:  http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/29843076-522/will-county-looks-for-broader-use-of-construction-zone-fines.html#.VBdc2ef4121