Some drivers offer unusual excuses to get out of red light camera tickets, but perhaps none has been more novel than taking Elton John to the airport as part of a police escort.
In 2010, that motorist got his ticket thrown out.
From random violence to personal tragedy, drivers have cited far more serious reasons to escape the $100 tickets. At those times, Chicago's hearing officers have gone outside the four corners of the law and thrown out tickets for an entirely different reason: compassion.
More than three dozen red light tickets generated during medical emergencies were tossed — including six for drivers rushing to hospitals to see dying relatives, five for women in labor, three for gunshot victims, two for cars transporting donated human organs, one for a rape victim on her way to the emergency room and one for a high school principal following an ambulance transporting a suicidal student.
One man got out of two tickets he received within a quarter-mile stretch of Madison Street on Chicago's West Side in May 2010 because he was under attack by passengers in his own car, and he had the police reports to prove it.
A couple of months later another man was excused when he explained to the hearing officer that he felt compelled to run a West Side light because of a gunbattle being waged by two cars behind him.
In August 2012, a good Samaritan was excused for blowing a light at 600 S. Cicero Ave. while he was chasing a hit-and-run driver who fled the scene of a motorcycle accident. According to police reports, he was able to identify the suspect for Chicago police.
A month later, another good Samaritan was excused from his ticket at 6000 W. Addison St. after the victim of a robbery appeared at the hearing to say the motorist witnessed his attack and drove him to the hospital because he had a severe head injury.
A cabdriver on the North Side was excused for running a red light at 6800 N. Western Ave. in the spring of 2003 because his cab was being rammed repeatedly from the rear by an erratically driven minivan.
— David Kidwell and Alex Richards