Traffic scofflaws may risk being sued for fines

October 17, 1992|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Staff Writer

A city finance official is contemplating court action against flagrant scofflaws who ignore an amnesty program for parking tickets issued from 1986 through 1989.

Since the amnesty program began on Sept. 1, the city has collected just $97,000 -- less than 3 percent of the approximately $3 million owed for unpaid parking tickets issued during the four-year period.

Ottavio Grande, acting city collector, said yesterday that he is disappointed with the response to the program and he is considering lawsuits against some of the worst scofflaws if they fail to ante up by the program's Oct. 31 deadline.

"It would be worth it to sue people who owe between $2,500 and $3,000 to the city in tickets and penalties," Mr. Grande said. "Some people think there are no other enforcement means to make. But there are."

Scofflaws who take advantage of the program pay the face value of their unpaid tickets and the city waives the penalties.

The city imposes a penalty of $8 per month on every ticket that goes unpaid 30 days after it's issued. Mr. Grande said approximately 140,000 unpaid tickets account for the $3 million owed to the city for the period covered by the amnesty. By initiating the amnesty, the city hoped to collect fines for a good portion of the unpaid tickets, Mr. Grande said.

To accommodate scofflaws who decide to ante up at the last minute, the parking fine office will be open on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The office is located in the Abel Wolman Municipal Building at 200 N. Holliday St.

The city usually issues about 400,000 parking tickets a year and there is an 88 percent collection rate for vehicles registered in the state, he added.

Mr. Grande said the city frequently flags the license plate numbers of drivers who accumulate three or more unpaid parking tickets and those vehicles are targeted for booting. The city also reports scofflaws' plate numbers to the state Motor Vehicle Administration, which refuses to renew the scofflaws' vehicle registrations until the tickets and penalties are paid.

But many scofflaws get around the MVA by selling, trading or abandoning their vehicles, Mr. Grande said.

Parking fines in the city range from a $17 for a meter violation to $102 for an abandoned vehicle ticket.

Tickets and penalties are a source of considerable revenue for the city. Last year, $8.5 million was collected through parking tickets and $3.9 million was received in ticket penalties.

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