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Archive for Monday, August 31, 2009

Parking infractions can become ticket to jail

August 31, 2009

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Fines for Lawrence city parking tickets are increasing to $3 Tuesday, and if the ticket isn't paid in 10 days, the fine is increasing from $10 to $15.

If you rack up enough of those tickets and don’t pay the fine, you could end up taking a surprise trip to Douglas County Jail.

Really? Yes.

A Journal-World/6News Open Records request revealed that 71 people were issued arrest warrants by the city in 2008 for unpaid parking tickets, and 10 parking ticket delinquents were booked into the county jail last year. The Journal-World attempted to contact the 10 people booked into the jail for unpaid tickets, but of those contacted, none was willing to comment.

How many does it take?

A few unpaid tickets probably won’t send you to the slammer. But if they start filling up your glove box, then it’s a possibility.

Lawrence City Attorney Tom Porter said that while there isn’t a set threshold for the amount of unpaid parking fines that can prompt the formal process leading to a warrant, the process is typically reserved for those owing more than $500.

Vicki Stanwix, municipal court administrator, said the court sends complaint letters to those with high outstanding fines in an attempt to make payment arrangements.

Downtown business owner Michael Logan was recently sent one of the complaint letters warning him to pay up. And he’s hoping to avoid doing time.

“I’m a habitual offender,” Logan said. “I’ve got to square up with them.”

Stanwix said the formal complaints are usually enough to get those with high fines, such as Logan, to pay up. Of the 308 formal complaints issued by the city last year, only 71 led to warrants. In addition to the 10 warrants that were served, 25 remain active.

The parking fine changes taking effect Tuesday will not affect the process for issuing warrants, said Stanwix.

How the warrants are dealt with by the city varies, said Toni Wheeler, city director of legal services. She said that most often, those with active warrants don’t end up in the jail just for unpaid parking tickets. Typically, such warrants are executed when someone is arrested on another matter, or during a traffic violation.

But there have been cases, she said, where police have arrested someone solely on the warrant for unpaid parking tickets.

Most pay tickets

Stanwix said most Lawrence residents are responsible about paying their parking fines. Of the more than 90,000 parking tickets issued in the city in 2008, 50 percent to 60 percent are paid within 10 days, she said.

But outstanding parking ticket fines still account for a significant amount of money owed to the city. For the two-year period between July 2007 and July 2009, more than $300,000 worth of parking fines remains unpaid, or nearly 40 percent of the amount — $777,000 — the city has collected during the same period.

Logan, who is downtown a lot on business, said it’s easy for him to rack up the parking tickets. He said he tries to keep up with the meters, but isn’t always able to.

“You’ll get tied up,” he said. And while he’s less than timely keeping up with his unpaid tickets and feeding the meters, he knows the city’s parking enforcement officers are more punctual.

“They’re good at it,” Logan said.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 7 months ago

"as was already suggested, I'd give them a call. They said they are willing to work out payment arrangements."

Why not include some basic info in the article to facilitate this?-- as in what number to call, and to whom one should speak.

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purplesage 4 years, 7 months ago

Parking tickets are a pretty dumb idea - and meters (what do those things cost???) are dumber. Do we want people to shop in town instead of out at Wal-Mart / Target where there's free parking for all? Then, let people park, don't give them a fine if they stay too long in the store, pull out the meters and find something else for the folks engaged in the whole charade to do for work.

But let's get on to really dumb, totally stupid and overly-reactionary. Jail for a parking ticket, or more accuartely a collection of them, is a huge waste of resources and an example of the government going over-board.

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ralphralph 4 years, 7 months ago

Makes me want to head downtown to shop, rather than going to any of the places with free, unlimited time parking .... doesn't it?

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boogeyman 4 years, 7 months ago

I heard about the ticket maids getting their ankles slashed by criminals hiding under the cars in some cities. I guess the perpetrators used a common machete (the kind you can buy at large discount stores) and sharpened them like a razor. They cut several Achilles tendons and the women were temporarily crippled.

I sure hope that doesn't happen here...

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Paul R Getto 4 years, 7 months ago

Pay your tickets? QED. I must admit, sometimes it's fun to be just ahead of the ticket writers, see an expired meter clock, and drop a quarter in just before they get there.

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shaunepec 4 years, 7 months ago

Just another bozo, as was already suggested, I'd give them a call. They said they are willing to work out payment arrangements.

Kansas Voter, We incorrectly listed the 10 day fine as $10. With the other increase in fines, the 10 day fine is now $15. As far as I know, that's as far as they get as far as fines...Although I suppose getting arrested would be its own increase...

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flux 4 years, 7 months ago

Lay off the girls. They write me tickets all the time and I'm not hatin.

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ozzynbn 4 years, 7 months ago

Compared to KU parking fines.... Larryville has it easy.

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zettapixel 4 years, 7 months ago

Nothing wrong with those muffin tops... mmmmmm

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farfle 4 years, 7 months ago

there's no law against feeding meters. It would be unconstitutional against freedom of expression.

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vigil05 4 years, 7 months ago

Off topic... Is there an ordinance that bans individuals from randomly going around putting coins in parking meters just because they feel like it? Playing the "good Samaritan"?

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firstamendmentrights 4 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Justanopinion 4 years, 7 months ago

oh and by the way henry peach...just call the municiple court...or at least that is who I had to talk to when they were threatening my undue warrant.

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Justanopinion 4 years, 7 months ago

I kept getting a letter in the mail that said I had unpaid parking ticket on a tag that was not even mine (not to mention it was on a jeep and I drive a Honda) On the first one I called and they said they would clear it up. After the second one threatening a warrant I went down to the court and requested proof it was cleared up. I still care the proof because after the first phone call I dont trust it.

Maybe they should be sure and be on top of who owns what car before warrants are issued. I know it is only $10 I could pay and be done with it but the issue currently is the principal of it.

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KansasVoter 4 years, 7 months ago

Do the additional fines on unpaid parking tickets stop at $10 or do they keep going up?

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Matt Needham 4 years, 7 months ago

"What would have been useful info in this article is how someone should contact the city to see how many old unpaid parking tickets they have and to arrange payment."

Just wait for the mail. The city will contact you.

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demonfury 4 years, 7 months ago

OK, read the article people. The unpaid ticket goes to $10.00 after 10 days. If it takes approximately $500.00 in unpaid tickets to get an arrest warrant to get a person to pay them, then I personally feel that's way to much. That number should be around $100.00 or $150.00 at most. Think about it, that's 10-15 unpaid tickets that lapsed over the 10 payment period, where as currently it's 50 or so. If the city wants to boost revenue, this is how they should go about it. Hammer the habitual parking violators, not the general public. I also wouldn't tie up the jail with basic indebtedness, or spend jail dollars with this. Jailing for indebtedness to the city can become a legal tightrope. Technically it's illegal to do so. There is some gray area in the law that can allow the debtor to get out of it altogether. Then the city has to spend a bunch of money trying to collect a little. I would issue a mandatory appearance ticket, and then fine the hell out of them over and above the infraction fees, once they appear. If they do not appear, then issue the warrant as it then becomes a misdemeanor crime. Follow basic procedures, and the city makes money.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 7 months ago

I suspect most unpaid fines (aside from those of downtown workers) are because the owner didn't have the exact change (now three dollars) and/or they were in a hurry and figured they'd pay it later. Once the ten days are up, and it's gone to $10, they no longer feel any urgency in getting it paid, and eventually they just put it out of their minds.

What would have been useful info in this article is how someone should contact the city to see how many old unpaid parking tickets they have and to arrange payment.

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macon47 4 years, 7 months ago

most folks understand the city really cant afford to break much of a sweat for 3 bucks

especially if the violater is out of town. as long as they beat up on the habitual violaters thats fine with me

i get about 1 ticket per year and they are always my fault and no one elses.

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Kat Christian 4 years, 7 months ago

I have a difficult time believing people are this blatant about not paying a parking ticket. How difficult can it be? Not like its $50 IT'S $3.00 PEOPLE. Not going to break your bank here. Besides the city needs it and you violanted the parking time requirements on your quarter so pay it you deadbeats.

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macon47 4 years, 7 months ago

the main reason for parking meters is to prevent lard butted store owners and their employees from hogging parking places all day long. i wonder if they still complain how poor business is when their own cars are the reason no one can find a place to park, their fines sould be and automatic 10 bucks for each ticket

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RoeDapple 4 years, 7 months ago

Shaun, It would be interesting to hear what the most time served for parking violations has been.

Roe

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Flap Doodle 4 years, 7 months ago

Where did the Nick Danger go to law school?

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Matthew Herbert 4 years, 7 months ago

I think the point Tom Porter was trying to make, without snubbing the "importance" of the law directly was that the city simply has bigger fish to fry. I have to agree with Porter on this point. If things in the city are running smoothly, they can focus more effort and dedication on rounding up parking fees. However, when their attention is focused elsewhere, they simply don't have the time to be chasing after petty parking ticket thieves, nor would I want them in such a situation to be focusing effort in that direction. Secondly, I doubt even if the threshold number exists Porter would publicly announce it. Doing so would be counterproductive and would deter the worst offenders from paying up until they hit that magical set number.

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Marion Lynn 4 years, 7 months ago

"Lawrence City Attorney Tom Porter said that while there isn’t a set threshold for the amount of unpaid parking fines that can prompt the formal process leading to a warrant, the process is typically reserved for those owing more than $500."

Marion writes:

Citizens!

All laws must be equally and fairly enforced.

Where did the DropShot Tom Porter go to law school?

Kinda like; who ya want, when you want them, right, Tom?

Taxpayers get money extorted from them for "THIS" ?

Tom should go get a job in the real world.

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