Sunday, February 4, 2018

Do I Really Need to Pay an Out-of-state Parking Ticket?

A couple days ago, I went on an out-of-state road trip from Iowa to Wisconsin to meet my son at a musical performance.  The plan was to watch his performance and then take him to an event in yet another state.

As it happened, there was no parking anywhere near the music venue, except for one spot.  It was along a street in front of a driveway about a block away.  The curb next to the driveway was painted yellow for about 1 foot.  I was able to pull into the space so that I was not blocking the driveway at all.  I will admit that a little bit of the back of my car was into the 1 foot of yellow curb, but not even taking up the entire 1 foot.  I thought I was good.

Do I Really Need To Pay My Out-of-State Parking Ticket?
Do I Really Need To Pay My Out-of-State Parking Ticket?

Well, I came back a couple hours later and found a ticket on my windshield.  A $20 ticket!  My first thought was to crumple up the ticket and throw it away.  For one thing, I thought the way I parked was just fine, plus I was from a different state.  Are they really going to track me down in Iowa from Wisconsin and impound my car or something?

My initial decision was not to worry about paying an out-of-state parking ticket.  I put the ticket away to think about later after my trip.

After a bit of research into parking ticket enforcement, I decided to send my payment in immediately.  If it was easy to ignore parking tickets, no one would bother to pay them.  Here's why I decided to cough up the $20 even for an out-of-state ticket.

Many states exchange information, so the folks in Wisconsin can pull my vehicle record in Iowa and figure out how to mail me bills.  Of course I could choose to ignore the bills.  The initial ticket can escalate if you don't pay it, so that $20 ticket can turn into $50 or more.  So far this isn't really a problem because I could simply not pay the ticket.

Eventually, the ticket can be turned over to a collection agency to collect the money and can possibly impact your credit rating if it gets put on your report as an unpaid bill.  Dealing with letters and possibly calls from a bill collector could be a bit stressful, and getting something on my credit report and maybe a ding in my credit score would not be good.

But it can get worse.  If my car was found in Wisconsin with an unpaid ticket on the record, the car could get booted or impounded.  The next level of pain would be if the court in Wisconsin issued a warrant for my arrest, so if I am ever pulled over in Wisconsin, I could even get thrown in jail!  This sounds extreme to issue an arrest warrant for not paying a parking ticket, but apparently this is one of the tools in the toolbox to get people to pay up.

One way to avoid these problems would be to never go back to Wisconsin again.  Even so, there would be a warrant out for my arrest and this could show up in my records if anyone were to do a background check on me for an employment opportunity, etc. at any point in the future.

So I decided to either pay the ticket or appeal it.  The appeals process requires you to pay court costs if you don't win the appeal, around $150 in this case for the $20 ticket.  Since I was technically in violation of the yellow curb, and since I didn't take any pictures or have any other evidence, there would be almost no chance of winning an appeal.  It wouldn't be worth risking $150 to get out of a $20 ticket.

So I wrote a check for $20 and dropped it in the mail this morning.

Paying $20 for a questionable parking violation didn't seem like an especially good use of money, but in this case it was the best option.

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1 comment:

  1. I worked in the jail I saw people who did get arrested for tickets ~


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