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I was 2 months late to renewing my license plate this year. I was given a fine (which was more than fair given my mistake), paid it without contesting, and then renewed my plates (with a late fee). The payments for my plate sticker went through and I was able to confirm that my plates were listed in the Secretary of State database as "In Good Standing".

A week later I was still waiting for my sticker to come in the mail but parked my car on a city street. A Chicago officer issued another expired plates violation for my vehicle while I was away and didn't have an opportunity to explain that my plates were now in good standing for atleast the past week and I was merely waiting for the sticker in the mail. I immediately contested this ticket online, providing evidence of my receipt from the Secretary of State's office that I had renewed well before this ticket was issued (and worded it as formally and politely as I could have).

I thought when my situation was reviewed it would be rather open and shut, and the fine would be dropped; however today I received a letter in the mail that a local judge had reviewed my case and determined the violation was still in affect. It then stated I would need to pay additional money in order to open a civil lawsuit to sue the city of Chicago if I wanted to appeal further; otherwise, I would need to pay my fine.

It is my understanding they are probably within their right to press forward on charging me (I believe state law is that even if your plates are in good standing you can be fined for not displaying your sticker within 30 days of the original expiration date); however, I felt my situation would have been more understandable and that I had done my best to renew my plates prior to when this new violation was issued.

In short, I have a 60 dollar fine (not for having expired plates but for not receiving my sticker quickly enough to display). Please let me know if a circuit court in Chicago would be even be willing to see things from my perspective or if I should just hand over more money.

Lastly, If I were to file a civil lawsuit how much would I expect to pay to even try appealing this? Would I effectively be losing more money than if I just paid this fine? I tried to get this answered by calling the circuit court's financial department yesterday but they just transferred me to different branches for over an hour.

  • Why haven't you asked your lawyer this? And if you want to say, "because I don't have one" the obvious follow-up is "you should". – Nij Dec 25 '19 at 6:26
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    You are right; I don't have a lawyer though I know some that I can speak to after the holidays are over. I just received this in the mail and was hoping to get a broader idea of what more informed people may think of this situation. – CptBlAnds Dec 25 '19 at 6:33
  • It sounds like you are wanting to bring a case against the city on the basis of “but but but it’s not faaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiir!” - those lawsuits generally do not succeed. – Moo Dec 25 '19 at 6:59
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    Rude. I'm simply uninformed and am here asking whether I have a case and what it would look like financially to try to have this reviewed in a circuit court. Maybe I am using the Law StackExchange incorrectly; I haven't posted here before. – CptBlAnds Dec 25 '19 at 7:11
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    @Moo lots of courts will dismiss tickets like this under similar circumstances (e.g. a ticket for a broken tail light dismissed on the presentation of a receipt for the purchase of a new light bulb the following day). There is no need to be so dismissive. The question is quite reasonable. – phoog Dec 25 '19 at 17:20
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It isn't worth litigating a $60 fine for a non-moving violation that isn't likely to recur. You have a less than 50-50 chance of prevailing (something that is almost always true when you are appealing the decision of a judicial officer in a context like this one), you have no real long term harms as you would in the case of "points" for a moving violation, and you are even less likely to get costs of litigation or attorneys' fees if you prevail, so not having to pay a $60 fine would be a pyrrhic victory from an economic perspective. Even if it is free (and it probably isn't) it would easily take many hours to litigate that isn't worth you time.

Any lawyer who would take the case would be cheating you because they would only leave you worse off than you are to start with due to their fees.

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