Mayor Lightfoot wants to reduce fees and penalties for parking tickets

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is moving to reduce the sting of vehicle fees and fines that have cost thousands of motorists the right to drive.

She plans to stop suspending the licenses of those who do not pay and wants to make it easier to get that Denver boot off your car.

City Hall's fees and fines for vehicles -- which multiply quickly when you do not pay -- may soon be less painful.

"It doesn't make sense to punish people for not paying their fines by taking away their ability to earn a living and pay that fine back," Lightfoot said.

Since about 80 percent drive to work in the Chicago area, a study by Pro Publica Illinois last year found that's effectively what happens to most who lose their driver's license for not paying fines.

"This is an amazing beginning. This is a fresh start!" said Rosazlia Grillier.

Grillier and others who've worked to change the system applauded the mayor's call for the City Council to approve by September three key reforms: First, stop suspending drivers licenses for failing to pay fines; Second, reduce the total charge for failing to buy and display a $200 vehicle sticker to $250 from the current $400.

And third, give those whose vehicles have been booted 24 hours to pay their fines, or agree to a payment plan. Low-income drivers would get extra help making it easier to retrieve their vehicles.

Watchdogs worry it could reduce revenue for a city facing a billion-dollar budget shortfall.

Still, one says it is worth doing.

"I think it's a good idea. I think Mayor Lightfoot is looking at ‘what's the experience for Chicagoans?' And Chicagoans are feeling beleaguered. We have a very aggressive booting policy," said President of the Civic Federation of Chicago, Laurence Msall.

Pro Publica Illinois found more than 10,000 local residents a year who file for bankruptcy owe City Hall large amounts for vehicle-related fines, typically about $3,900 each, concluding it's a big reason Cook County leads the nation in bankruptcies.