THE LOOP — Chicago drivers could soon see their ticket debts erased and their licenses restored.
Starting this month, drivers in the city can get city stickers without incurring a late fee. And in November, the city will start clearing debt from drivers if they’ve been ticketed for not having a city sticker.
The reforms could help hundreds of thousands of Chicago drivers who have struggled under the burden of ticket debt.
There’s still no word yet on how driver’s licenses will be returned to people who had them revoked (we’re on the case and will keep you updated), but the city has released information about how to clear city sticker debt.
Here’s a handy how-to:
Step One: Get A City Sticker
First, if you have a car, you must get a city sticker. While normally you have to get a city sticker within 30 days of buying a new car or moving to the city, Chicago is providing the stickers penalty-free for all of October.
During October, drivers won’t be charged a $60 late fee for getting a sticker after the 30-day period. They’ll only have to pay the usual sticker price of $46.49 for a bike or $87.82 for a passenger car. (Have a bigger car? Sticker prices are available online.)
Can’t afford the price? You can get a Reduced Term City Sticker, which will give you a cheaper sticker that’s active for part of the year. You’ll have to get another sticker once the first one’s time is up.
Some people — including seniors, those with antique cars and veterans — can also buy stickers at a discount or for free.
Drivers can buy a city sticker online or by going to a City Clerk office, a Department of Finance office or a Mobile City Hall:
- City Clerk offices: 121 N. LaSalle St. (City Hall), 5430 W. Gale St., 5674 S. Archer Ave.
- Department of Finance offices: 4770 S. Kedzie Ave., 4445 N. Pulaski Road, 2006 E. 95th St., 400 W. Superior St.
- A schedule for Mobile City Halls is available online.
The stickers will be available without the late fee through Oct. 31.
Step Two: Apply To Have Your Debt Forgiven
Once you have a sticker and are compliant (or if you already have a sticker), you can apply to have your city sticker ticket debt forgiven starting Nov. 15.
Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15, you can go online to request forgiveness for those tickets. You can also sign up to be notified via email when applications open for debt forgiveness.
The city will forgive debt for up to three city sticker tickets — and since each ticket costs $200 and not paying them incurs late fees, that can quickly add up. Anyone who has a city sticker is eligible for the debt relief.
Those who are low-income can also have all their sticker ticket debt erased, tweeted ProPublica reporter Melissa Sanchez, who’s written extensively about Chicago’s ticket debt.
Those who apply will get an email saying their ticket debt has been forgiven once the city processes their application.
And no, those who have already paid sticker tickets won’t be given a refund. The forgiveness program is only available to those with outstanding debt for city sticker tickets.
Can My Other Ticket Debt Be Forgiven?
No — at least not yet. Right now, the city is only forgiving debt for tickets related to city stickers.
How Do I Get My License Back?
The city is still waiting for state legislators to pass reforms that will make it so Chicago’s drivers can get back their licenses if they lost them due to ticket debt. That means there’s no way to get your license back — yet.
On the plus side, the city is no longer suspending the licenses of people for non-moving offenses, like parking tickets. You can still lose your license for driving offenses, though.
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