The big problem with cell phone tickets in Chicago

The rant on cell phone while driving tickets in Chicago.

The city of Chicago passed a law in 2005 to help stop the noxious distraction of mobile devices. With threat of a $100 ticket, the ordinance should keep the roads a bit safer and of course, generate some revenue for the cash-strapped city.
The problem? Nobody’s F#@&ing enforcing it.

cell phone driving ticket

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The numbers

Sure, in 2010 the city gave the Chicago Police Department a big pat on the back for writing 23,292 tickets for using a cellphone while driving, resulting in $2.2 million in revenue.

23,292 tickets. That is not a big number for a small, easy, highly-profitable offense for drivers. Think about it.

23,292 tickets / 365 days in a year = 64 tickets per day

I don’t know about any of you, but 64 tickets per day is nothing. Give me a goddamn badge and I’ll have that quota by the end of rush hour. Seriously.

Now, let’s take that 64 tickets a day and divide it by the number of cops in Chicago. There are about 13,400 cops in Chicago.

64 tickets a day / 13,400 police officers = .005 cell phone tickets per cop per day.

So that 23,292 tickets issued that the city is so proud of? That number can be reached if every cop in Chicago issued only 2 cell phone tickets a year. Given how many people I see talking, texting, and driving, they should be able to write up those 2 just heading back to the station after their shift.

As a frequent cyclist (not the fixed-gear, hipster, road-hog type biker, but more of a, bike-to-work-to-save-bus-fare type biker), I’m all down for a law that can help keep driver’s eyes on the road.

$2.2 million. To give that number a bit of perspective, take a look at those pesky red-light cameras popping up all over. The revenue for those? $60 million. You know why the city likes those more? It’s all automated. You know why cops like those more? It’s all automated.

It’s about time to make the city and the cops work as hard as we do. Trash the automated bullshit. Put cops on the street (not the dunkin donuts parking lot by me they love to hang out at so much). Pull people over. Write up tickets for talking on a cell phone while driving.  Because it’s dangerous. It’s one of the more justified rules of the road out there.

Anyone else agree?

Or have any of you got a cell phone ticket? How much did it cost you?


  1. I noticed that people do drive a little slower in the suburbs. I asked a few of my co-workers why they think that is and they said “cops will pull you over and give you a ticket for speeding in the burbs, even if you’re just a few miles over the speed limit.” These cops realize or have it drilled into their heads that the ticket revenue that the generate comes back to them and their community.

    City cops realize this too but they are too busy going after real criminals since crime is statistically higher in the urban jungle

  2. Chicago is basically lawless city. You can do anything you want on the roads of Chicago. Talking on cell phones is only the tip of the iceberg. I routinely see people do U turns across 4 lanes of traffic. Texting at stop signs and stop lights. Weaving across lanes while texting. Bicyclists going through red lights and stop stops signs. Anything goes. The cops are too busy trying to stop the citizens from killing each other.

  3. I received a ticket for holding a cell phone while driving and contested it. I went to my day in court and they dropped the ticket. I had a lot of questions about the law and couldn’t find answers so I asked a lot of questions while I was there and wrote out the whole process on my blog to share:

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