Charlette Harris said thieves were behind the wheel when her car was caught by a speed camera, and now she’s getting warnings her time is running out to pay up.
“It makes you angry that our city would do this to you,” she said.
Harris said she never imagined after losing her mother to COVID-19 and being carjacked at gunpoint that things could get any worse, at least until she realized she was on the hook for the $100 speed camera violation.
“Why should I have to pay it?” Harris wondered. “I wasn’t driving my car. The carjackers were driving my car.”
Harris was carjacked at gunpoint on Christmas Day in Englewood, at a gas station near 59th and Ashland. Shortly afterward, three miles away, her SUV was caught speeding through a school zone in the 1500-block of West 83rd Street.
A retired property manager, she filed a police report and eventually got her black Nissan Murano back on New Year’s Day. But she had to pay $1,500 for repairs because insurance didn’t cover the whole cost. Then in January, she received the speed camera violation ticket in the mail.
“I wasn’t driving the car. The police report proves I wasn’t driving the car. Why are they doing this?” she said.
Harris contested the fine, but an administrative court sent a letter last month saying she had to pay within 10 days, and if she didn’t collection efforts would begin.
Angry and unsure of what to do, she reached out to her alderman, who said she got the runaround as well.
“I sent them copies of the police report, copies of the impound,” Harris said. “I even wrote a short letter letting them know I was a carjack victim. I thought I was following the procedure.”
City officials said administrative law judges do not have access to police reports, and a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Finance released a statement saying in part, “There are no records of an official police report submitted by Ms. Harris. If the motorist can provide the City with an official police report, DOF can request a petition to vacate the judgement issued by the administrative law judge.”
Harris hopes to get some resolution soon so she can move on with her life.
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