Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune reported that, due to a 38-year old Attorney General’s opinion, the City of Chicago has decided to delay the start date for its speed camera program until early next year. The program was set to begin with at least 25 speed cameras set up throughout the city in “safety zones” located within one-eighth of a mile of schools and parks. Drivers caught by the cameras would be issued a warning ticket on their first offense, followed by tickets of up to $100.
The Attorney General’s opinion interpreted the Illinois state statute on special speed limits in school zones (625 ILCS 5/11-605) to mean that children must be “visibly present” before the school zone speed limits can be enforced. The City has interpreted this opinion to mean that the speed cameras must not only capture photographs of the speeding car and its license plate, but also a child within the vicinity, preferably in the same shot.
The Tribune reports that the old AG opinion did not come up earlier during the debate over initiating the speed camera program. An excellent way to discover such opinions is to look at an annotated code, such as West’s Smith-Hurd Illinois Compiled Statutes. In the “Notes of Decisions” section for the Illinois statute on speeding in a school zone, there is a citation to the relevant AG opinion with text stating that that the statute applies “only when children are physically present on such street or are outside the school building in a school zone.”
The moral of the story: always use an annotated code when doing legal research!