ProPublica Illinois has been reporting all year on how ticketing in Chicago is pushing tens of thousands of drivers into debt and hitting black and low-income motorists the hardest. Last month, as part of a collaboration with WBEZ, we reported on how a city decision to raise the cost of citations for not having a required vehicle sticker has led to more debt — and not much more revenue.
We were able to tell these stories, in part, because we obtained the city of Chicago’s internal database for tracking parking and vehicle compliance tickets through a Freedom of Information request jointly filed by both news organizations. The records start in 2007, and they show you details on when and where police officers, parking enforcement aides, private contractors and others have issued millions of tickets for everything from overstaying parking meters to broken headlights. The database contains nearly 28.3 million tickets. Altogether, Chicago drivers still owe a collective $1 billion for these tickets, including late penalties and collections fees.
Now you can download the data yourself; we’ve even made it easier to import. We’ve anonymized the license plates to protect the privacy of drivers. As we get more records, we’ll update the data.
We’ve found a number of stories hidden in this data, including the one about city sticker tickets, but we’re confident there are more. If you see something interesting, email us. Or if you use the data for a project of your own — journalistic or otherwise — tell us. We’d love to know.