In Illinois it takes just one step to turn a $120 speeding ticket into a $300 ticket.
All you have to do is go to court.
A new report on the skyrocketing cost of Illinois' court fees shows well -intentioned fees added by lawmakers have created a byzantine system that doubles and sometimes triples the cost of routine court cases.
McHenry County Circuit Clerk Kathy Keefe said some fees are earmarked for worthy causes such as child advocacy centers and firetrucks. But she said there could be almost a dozen others. "Is it a moving violation? Does it qualify for the trauma center fee? There are so many ridiculous little things that factor into which fees apply," Keefe said.
Illinois lawmakers added most, if not all, of the fees.
State Rep. Steve Andersson, R-Geneva, added one last year to charge up to $30 to help Kane County building a new courthouse. That was before Andersson said he joined Illinois' Stautory Court Fee Task Force and realized the scope of the problem. "We're adding to an unending bottom line."
Andersson said he hopes the new report on court fees forces lawmakers to consolidate fees, roll back some costs, or has the legislature simple stop adding new fees.
Andersson said there are serious questions about fairness and justice. "I think the system is supposed to be designed for justice. To give (people) a fair hearing. Without penalizing them for doing that."
Keefe agreed the Legislature needs to realize what it's doing when it approves these court fees. But she said she worries if lawmakers simply pull the plug, a lof of programs will be left without any money.