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Appellate Court Rules Chicago Issued Ticket Fines Exceeding Legal Amount

Critics of the city's ticketing practices argue it can impact lower income and minority communities and result in bankruptcy.

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Thousands of tickets given to Chicago drivers, including those for not having up-to-date city stickers and other violations, may have been against the law, according to a court's ruling Friday.

In a stunning opinion, an Illinois Appellate Court ruled the city of Chicago issued tickets that carry fines and penalties far in excess of the $250 allowed by state law.

One resident who received a ticket, Kyle Garcher of Bucktown, said he is on a payment plan after being fined and penalized more than $1,000.

"It’s pretty insane to me just the fact that they’re able to levee that much in tickets in such a short amount of time with little to no recourse as far as assistance or help with getting those paid off," Garcher said.

Critics of the city's ticketing practices argue it can impact lower income and minority communities and result in bankruptcy.

"People are losing their jobs, people are losing their cars, people are losing their livelihoods," said Jacie Zolna, a lawyer representing residents who filed suit against the city regarding the tickets.

Zolna said the city, for at least the past decade, has flouted that law and has repeatedly increased its fine and penalties in an effort to balance its budget. The city's Department of Law told NBC 5 it is reviewing the opinion issued by the court.

The plaintiffs in the case are working on a class action lawsuit, which they hope will bring relief to other Chicagoans and also reign in the city's ticketing practices.

Zolna, the plantiffs' attorney, called Friday's ruling a victory.

"The more people pay attention to this issue, the better chance we’ll have of changing the way the city does business and don’t be fooled, it is a business," he said.

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