Fireworks, Illinois Work Zone Fines and $375 Sparklers (Maybe)

After work today, Liz was out running errands… in Indiana. For part of our wedding reception, we wanted to incorporate sparklers. Liz had searched locally for some, prior to the fourth, but had no luck. While I heard that you could buy them legally here in Chicago, Liz found info to the contrary. I’m still a bit confused, honestly, as to whether sparklers are legal or not here in Chicago.

At any rate, while she was in Indiana she decided to stop by Krazy Kaplans and pick up some sparklers on the cheap.

A few odd things happened on the way home. First, as she was leaving the lot, she called me and said that there was a lot of noise coming from the car. After a moment, she realized that someone had put fireworks in her tailpipe – bottle rockets or something like that.

As she drove off, I guess the tailpipe heated up and set them off.

On looking back, she remembered someone sitting in a van in the parking lot, and assumed the person who did this worked for Krazy Kaplans.

While driving back, she also noticed a very odd flash of light. It was a green flash, and seemed to come from a van on the side of the road. When we talked, we determined it happened in a “work zone,” and we’re now thinking that she may have gotten a ticket.

But not just any ticket, a $350 ticket.

Liz’s sister Katie sent out a warning about this a few weeks back, and both Liz and I totally forgot about this warning. So I’m posting this here as a general “keep an eye out,” so that you might save yourself $375.

The law states that first-time work zone speeders, including those caught on camera, will be hit with a fine of $375, with $125 of that sum going to pay off-duty State Troopers to provide added enforcement in construction or maintenance zones. Two-time offenders are subject to a $1,000 fine, including a $250 surcharge to hire Troopers, and the loss of their license for 90 days. Tickets received in a work zone require a mandatory court appearance.

That’s right – first ticket is $375, and the second ticket is $1,000. And a 90 day suspension of your license. Seems incredibly harsh to me. And the more I think about it, the more puzzled I am.

I understand and agree that work zone safety is important, and work zone fatalities are definitely things that can be avoided with just a little more precaution. But according to the IDOT Press Release, the numbers of work zone traffic related fatalities have gone down since 2003. In 2007, we saw 21 traffic related work zone fatalities with 2 workers killed.

Given the numbers, the new work zone speed cameras seem like a blatant money-making scheme. I sound like a vulture for thinking this, but when I saw that there were only 21 fatalities (as though any fatality were “acceptable”), I thought “well that doesn’t seem that bad.” I could be wrong though, in thinking annual driving fatalities are higher than they actually are.

It seems that there’s been a (steady?) decrease in fatalities since the work zone safety laws were put into place. So the question I have is – why add all these extra measure to up the enforcement now? If the fines were in place but weren’t that enforced, why the big push now?

Surely things like drunk driving or talking on your cellphone while driving are the cause of more accidents/fatalities? I’d be curious to know how much those offenses cost you?

Did some quick Google searching. First DUI conviction will fine you $1,000, loss of license for 1 year, and a possible 1 year jail term. Talking on your cell phone is technically illegal in Chicago, but not enforced very much to be effective. In 2009, fines increased from $25 to $100 and they go up to $500 if you cause an accident while on your phone.

For my money, I’d be down with upping the cellphone fine. Make it $375 for a first offense, and $1,000 for the second. I’ve had way too many close calls with other people on cellphones. It’s always the ones who can’t multi-task who think they can multi-task.

I guess the good news is that, while Liz was driving, there was someone in front of her. It’s possible (cross your fingers here) that the person in front got the ticket and/or blocked the info from our vehicle. I guess we’ll find out.

For those of you driving around in Illinois this summer – watch out for work zones. You have 375 very good reasons to keep your foot off the pedal.

Here’s a shot of the sparklers Liz picked up.

We went outside to test them out, just to… you know, make sure they worked.

I was able to futz around with my camera and figure out how to do an extended exposure. We had fun playing around a bit, doing some drawing.

This is my half smiley face. Guess I should set the exposure for a little longer next time. Heh.

I’m honestly not sure what I was trying to draw here. Some kind of nacho shaped angel with one wing? Perhaps I shouldn’t have ended the photo series with this image.

If you really want to see folks who know what they’re doing with light and photography, check out the Light Drawing Flickr Pool or this post about Light Art Performance Photography.

Cold Winds, Modern Furniture and a $150 Cup of Coffee

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I still to this day believe that our highways should be exactly like the autobahn. We already have designated lanes for those who drive certain speeds. Here’s what I’ve read about it before…”Why is the autobahn safer than most US highways when the average speed is twice the legal limit? The Autobahn is highly maintained and always in excellent condition. Passing is only allowed on the left and things such as cellphones and eating while driving are strictly enforced. Drunk driving is not tolerated at all and can result in losing your license forever.”Just a thought, I’m crossing my fingers for you not to get the ticket!

    Justin Reply

  2. Therein lies the rub. I use to work construction and NOBODY pays attention to the slow down signs. People here are too busy paying attention to other important things like their blackberries, ipods, eating, looking at other people in other cars, and turning their heads to talk to people in their own car for the Autobahn to work here. Whenever I was nearly brushed by a car I’d always wonder if the people who were speeding, actually spent that extra 10 minutes they saved wisely.

    Anthony Reply

  3. Nacho-shaped angels are very big this year.

    juliet Reply

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