Increased Fine, Focused Ticketing Means More Painful City Sticker Enforcement
The 15-day grace period for Chicago vehicle owners to purchase and display their 2012-2013 city sticker expired at midnight, Monday July 16th.
While Chicago Police officers, according to reports, began writing tickets for failure to display city vehicle stickers as soon as was legally possible, the bulk of the many thousands of violations began in earnest Monday morning when the first shift of city Parking Enforcement Aides hit the streets looking for violators.
It is no surprise, that the bulk of city sticker violations for the year are written in the weeks immediately following the July 15th deadline each year.
But this year will be the first post-city vehicle sticker grace period with the new and much higher fines.
Higher Fines Make It More Painful On Scofflaws
At the beginning of the year, the fines for a “failure to display city vehicle sticker,” rose from $120 to an even more painful $200. On top of that, the late fees have risen from $40 to $60. Both increases were supported by City Clerk Susana Mendoza, who’s office administrates the sale of city stickers.
“Clerk Mendoza proposed and helped City Council pass legislation that gave stiffer penalties to City Sticker scofflaws,” explained City Clerk spokesperson Kristine Williams. “She felt it was simply not fair to ask law-abiding Chicagoans to pay more for their stickers without first going after
those who purposely do not buy the sticker and pay the tax. City Vehicle Sticker fees help maintain and repair the more than 4,000 miles of Chicago roads. It is our hope that people who have not been in compliance before will come into compliance and pay their fair share to maintain our roads.”
What’s the total cost for getting caught without a 2012-2013 city sticker? When you add the $200 fine plus the $60 late fee on top of the $85 sticker, it totals $345. Larger vehicles and trucks will bump up your total cost even higher. It’s a big incentive to drivers who still haven’t purchased their vehicle sticker to get it sooner than later.
More Aggressive Enforcement Policies?
Earlier in the year, there was speculation that the city’s policies on having more than one city sticker on a vehicle windshield was going to change. Historically, some car owners keep several years of city stickers on their windshield. Sources within the Department of Finance Street Operations were hearing whispers of a more strict interpretation of the law that sees the presence of more than the current year’s city sticker as a violation.
However, this doesn’t seem to be the case according to Department of Finance spokesperson Holly Stutz.
“No new enforcement strategies are planned.” said Stutz when asked about this issue a week ago. “When enforcement begins next week, PEAs will be verifying if a current city sticker is displayed and whether the vehicle is registered in Chicago. Enforcement of multiple city stickers on a vehicle will not be the focus.”
The City Clerk’s office, which has their own small enforcement crew, will not be ticketing for multiple stickers either.
“The City Clerk’s enforcement division is focused on making sure that drivers have the current City Vehicle Sticker displayed, not on the number of city stickers on a motorist’s windshield,” said Williams. “However, the municipal code is very clear in defining the placement of the sticker as “the front windshield in the lower right-hand corner farthest removed from the driver’s position. We always encourage people to remove the previous year’s sticker to ensure proper placement of the current sticker and also to help with driver safety as multiple stickers may impede a driver’s ability to see out of the windshield.”
Open Season On Parking Garages, Lots
However, there has been one change to enforcement policies for PEAs that will make it easier to write more sticker violations.
PEAs can now patrol publicly accessible private garages and parking lots, including shopping centers, to write parking tickets.
Although the municipal code has allowed city sticker enforcement in public garages and lots since 2003, only Chicago police officers were allowed to write the violations. So despite the law on the books, many drivers essentially hid their vehicles from city sticker enforcement by housing their vehicles in private garages and rarely parking their vehicle on the public way where the chance for receiving a ticket are greater than parking in the Jewel or Target parking lot.
But a recent change in policy allows PEAs to write tickets in these same garages and lots, of course potential increasing the volume of city sticker violations which can be written.
“DOF will enforce city sticker violations in public garages as described in the
ordinance,” says Stutz. “Enforcement is equitable and PEAs are instructed to use discretion when enforcing any violation code.”