Chicago mayor’s motorcade racks up 8 red light and speed camera tickets in 5 weeks; currently owes $1,725 in fines

One of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s SUVs runs a red light. | City of Chicago

CHICAGO — It’s been five weeks since we reported that Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s motorcade SUVs had racked up 11 red light and speed camera tickets during his first five months in office. Perhaps the mayor saw our report as a challenge because his drivers have scored eight more citations since then.

For those keeping score, Johnson’s police-driven SUVs have collected 19 tickets since he took office on May 15. That’s about three per month. As of this morning, Johnson’s drivers owe the city $1,725 for outstanding violations. Their debts have more than doubled since our October report.

Some of the violations revealed in this story occurred before our October story was published, but they only recently appeared in the city’s citation database.

Among the motorcade car’s latest violations are speed camera citations that accuse the mayor’s drivers of whipping through school and park zones at highway speeds: 53 mph one time and 55 mph another.

Here’s one of Brandon’s SUVs driving 55 mph in the 5400 block of West Irving Park Road, adjacent to Portage Park, around 11:30 a.m. on September 25.

The city has yet to collect its $100 for that performance. You may have noticed the SUV’s police emergency lights were activated. That begs the question: What’s the big emergency, mayor?

The mayor’s SUV got clocked at 53 mph in a speed zone outside Harvard Elementary School around 4:45 p.m. on September 18.

Once again, the car’s blue lights were on. Was the mayor really on a critical life-and-death mission, or not so much?

On September 28, a camera caught two of the mayor’s SUVs zipping through the Gompers Park speed zone at 42 mph. We could only find a citation issued to one of the cars. Perhaps the camera wasn’t quick enough to cite them both.

Both of the mayor’s SUVs ran this red light in the 800 block of North Central on November 10. Once again, we could only find a citation for one of the cars.

Here goes the mayor’s car with its blue lights on again. The “emergency” was so horrible this time that his SUV had to run a red light at Central and Belmont.

As of this morning, the mayoral motorcade has $800 in outstanding red light camera fines, including a July 1 ticket that recently doubled to $200 after going into “final determination” status. Johnson’s drivers owe $875 for speed violations. That includes an unpaid $200 whopper from June 26.

The biggest mayoral motorcade debt to the city, though, is a parking ticket that one of the SUVs received while Lori Lightfoot was mayor. That “no parking any time” fine, issued in January, has ballooned from $100 to $244 thanks to non-payment penalties. Adding that to Johnson’s tab, the mayoral SUVs owe a total of $1,969.

Over the years, we’ve told you about motorcade tickets racked up by Rahm EmanuelLori Lightfoot, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. But none of them accrued violations as prodigiously as Johnson.

During the mayoral campaign, Johnson called red light and speed cameras “an easy revenue grab by the city, and they’re horribly unfair.”

Before the general election, Johnson largely stopped short of saying he would get rid of the cameras, but he went there during the run-off campaign.

“I’m for phasing them out if the Constitution allows us to,” Johnson said a week before he would be elected. “And if we can’t, wherever a speed ticket has been accumulated or acquired, that ZIP code should get the revenue.”

Original reporting you’ll see nowhere else, paid for by our readers. Click here to support our work.

About Tim Hecke 221 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com