Parking & Redlight Ticket Amnesty Program Begins Dec. 1
Yeah, yeah, I know we’re already halfway through the month of December.
I should have posted this hmmmmmm, perhaps two weeks ago.
I planned to. I really did. But this whole crappy parking meter lease deal went down and I didn’t have the time to fit it in. So now that things have calmed down at least a little bit, here is the low down on the city of Chicago ticket amnesty program.
*Runs ten weeks, from Dec. 1, 2008 to Valentines Day, Feb. 14, 2009.
*Applies to both parking and red light tickets.
*Only applies to tickets issued earlier than Dec. 31, 2006. This means anyone with tickets from 2007 and 2008 are out of luck.
*The city is waiving half of the penalty fee for any unpaid tickets. This means if you had an expired meter ticket for $50 and it subsequently doubled to $100, you have until the amnesty ends to pay $75 (you save $25).
*You must pay ALL old, unpaid tickets at once to receive the discount. However, you may qualify for a payment plan. You’ll have to check into that yourself.
*You will get your boot, tow, and storage fees waived on a previously booted vehicle if your vehicle is no longer in the city’s possession.
When they say “no longer in the city’s possession,” I’m not sure if they mean A-Your never came to get your car and they crushed it or B-You got your car from the pound and now you will get a rebate on what you paid before. Since it’s the city of Chicago, I will say A.
*Get the fees you paid for defaulting on a previous payment plan waived. Not bad.
*Boot eligibility drops to two tickets in Final Determination immediately after the amnesty.
*Additional collection costs will be tacked on to any unpaid tickets after the amnesty.
Historically, as Chicago ticket amnesty programs go, this one is pretty lame.
The last one from six years ago in 2002, the city agreed to waive the entire penalty, or cut your unpaid ticket bill in half. THAT was a good plan.
However, looking at the glass half full, you at least can save some cash.
Also, considering the two ticket boot plan kicks in right after the amnesty ends, I would be remiss and not recommending you take advantage of this deal.
And, don’t wait until the last minute or you’ll be waiting in some crazy long lines. Go now if you’re going to do it at all.
Here’s the Chicago Sun-Times coverage of the amnesty.
By Fran Spielman
Chicago motorists are being urged to take advantage of a six-week amnesty for overdue parking and red-light tickets before City Hall lowers the boom — by dropping the boot threshold from three unpaid tickets older than one year.
“I would encourage you to take advantage of this offer…We have not done one since 2002. Before that, there was one in the ‘80s. So it’s not something we want to do as a regular practice,” said Revenue Director Bea Reyna-Hickey.
“It’s an opportunity for you to come into compliance [and] save a little money. I wish it could be more. But some people could really benefit from the waiver of those additional fees out there on their record.”
City Hall drummed up support for its first parking ticket amnesty in six years amid word that the overall number of parking tickets is plunging.
Chicago will close the book on 2008 with roughly 2.6 million parking tickets. That’s down 7 percent from the 2.8 million tickets issued last year and 26 percent from the 3.5 million ticket blitz a decade ago.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported in August that Chicago police officers had written 84,000 fewer tickets than last year and were on pace to end the year with a 9 percent drop-off from the 1.63 million police-issued tickets in 2007.
At a City Hall news conference Monday, Reyna-Hickey at first atttributed the ticket plunge to motorists who “Òtake their parking more seriously” and are less inclined to park illegally.
But under further questioning, she said, “Police [ticketing] has decreased…Clearly, the police have a lot of other more important things to tend to” with homicides up 16 percent.”
In 2002, City Hall raked in more than $8.2 million and wiped 242,000 old parking tickets off the books with a six-week parking ticket amnesty followed by a drop in the boot threshold — from five unpaid tickets to three.
The carrot before the stick was the city’s offer to waive the ticket penalty in full and roll it back to the original fine amount.
This time, the carrot is smaller. The city is waiving only 50 percent of the penalties, and only on tickets issued before Jan. 1, 2007. In order to qualify, tickets must be paid in full.
The amnesty will run through Feb. 14 and raise $1 million. During that time, booting, towing and storage fees for vehicles no longer in the city’s posession will be waived entirely.
Default fees on payments plans would also be waived and the city would expand its hardship umbrella for those plans.
Once the six-week amnesty window closes, the boot threshold will drop to two unpaid tickets older than one year as the city seeks to collect $42 million in overdue fines. Collection costs, typically 22 percent, will also be pased along to scofflaws.
“When we were booting at five tickets, people stayed at four. When we are booting at three tickets, people stayed at two,” she said.
City Hall has been reluctant to offer frequent amnesty programs for fear of reducing collection rates by creating the expectation of periodic breaks.
Why not make the new amnesty as generous as the last one?
“We have payment plans where people have committed a certain amount of money at the full amount. We don’t want to lose the revenue from those commitments We needed to look at what was the break-even point and where we didn’t actually start hurting our revenues,” Reyna-Hickey said.