EAST ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - The ticket was for $240.00. It was among the bills Ruth Bennett opened. She knew she'd never driven in the construction zone in East St. Louis. She knew it had to be her husband, on one Saturday morning on his way home from work. He couldn't pay it. He wasn't around. Bennett's husband died a few weeks after he got that ticket.
She took the time off work on Wednesday afternoon to fight it. She showed up at East St. Louis at City Hall . She sat with at least 10 other people. They were all there for the same reason.
"This is about safety," Chief Michael Floore told us. But a few minutes after our interview, Floore took all 10 or so people into his office.
"All he did was take my ticket and said you can go, but they wouldn't give me anything to say I paid the ticket," Bennett said.
Chief Floore voided all the tickets. He couldn't tell us how many his officers had issued when they began contracting with a company called Blue Line Solutions a few months ago. He also wouldn't tell us how much money the city had collected.
"They are telling the drivers they have to pay fines. That's the issue we have with this company. They don't have the authority to do so. In Illinois you have to go through the court system, not anybody can start setting up and asking for money," said St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly.
Kelly said the tickets are illegal because drivers do not have the chance to go in front of a judge to contest the tickets.
Chief Floore said a hearing officer, who is a former firefighter, hears the people who contest the tickets. But he's not a judge. And he's not in a courtroom.
Kelly asked the city and the chief to stop issuing the tickets.
We asked Floore what would happen if people didn't pay the tickets. He said it would go to a collection agency.
"You have no duty to pay for it," Kelly said.
Kelly said he's working with the Chief and the city to make the program legal.
Floore is suspending the radar program for now. He said, it could be back in a month if he can get the legal avenues worked out with the State's Attorney.
If you've already paid your ticket, your only option is to take the City to civil court.