So, I’m standing on my front porch today watching a City vehicle stop in front of my house. Someone gets out and begins rummaging around in the back of truck, eventually producing a large orange boot and I think “wow, bummer - glad that isn’t me!” But it turns out, it IS!

But how can this be? I pay my tickets when I get them - I’m no fool. I know if I don’t they will find me eventually and the penalty will be high. In speaking with the admittedly very helpful officer, I discover that my violations amount to tickets supposedly incurred in 2002 and 2004. Not only do I not recall getting ANY of these tickets, we never EVER received any notification about them in the mail telling us they were past due, that we must pay them or else or any other opportunity to either pay or contest these supposed violations. The public utilities can do it, why can’t the City of Albuquerque? I also found out that these two tickets were written by officers who, mysteriously, are no longer on the force.

So, what’s going on here? Many years ago in Philadelphia, my father was similarly nailed for supposedly outstanding parking tickets - three of them inside of a week when my father was out of the country and the vehicle was housed in a parking garage in an entirely different part of town. Turns out officers eager to meet quota had kept the information of prior ticketed vehicles and began filling falsified records. Is that what happened here? Is that why those officers are not still on the force?

But it gets better. These officers I spoke to today were operating under orders to “blitz” my area (and presumably others as well). Regardless of whether I am eventually exonerated for the violations, I will still have to pay $50 to have the boot removed. That’s right - even if it was not my fault, I owe the City $50 for my inconvenience (not to mention my image in the neighborhood). Can you say extortion?

I recognize that the City is short on revenue, but is this really the way to go about it? Could they not have, in the past 8 YEARS, sent me a notice telling me that I owed this money and that I better pay it or go to court to contest it? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to send me a letter than to pay for the officers’ time to go out and place and later remove the boots? This just doesn’t make sense. But it does smell of a desperate attempt to generate needed revenue for the City. Heck, I would rather just pay the City $50 as a donation to the budget woes than go through this embarrassment and inconvenience.

If I do not schedule and then appear in court in the next 72 hours (between the convenient hours of 8-5), they will then tow my vehicle, impound it and charge me for the transport and storage fee. Too bad I have a job. I can only hope the court is efficient and that I don’t have to stay there half the day waiting to say my piece. But, of course, they did not even leave me a copy of the tickets I supposedly did not pay (I was just lucky enough to be there when they put the darn thing on and the, again very helpful officer allowed me to look at my records on his laptop.)

What’s up City of Albuquerque? Is this how desperate things have become?

Views: 64

Comment by hettie on September 8, 2010 at 11:18pm
wade, will you let us know how this plays out? I'm usually pretty conscientious about paying tickets, but you never know, it seems. and I live near the university where they boot cars all the time. good luck!
Comment by Kelly Vickers on September 9, 2010 at 6:55am
That's outrageous!
Comment by Wade Patterson on September 9, 2010 at 8:00am
Your point is well taken Rudolfo, but my point is that I never received the original tickets and then the City waited 8 years without notifying me of the unpaid violation even once and then showed up to boot my vehicle. My argument is that this approach is both financially inefficient and inconsistent. When I got a red light ticket and did not pay on time, they sent me a letter reminding me and charging a late fee. I would assume I also incurred late fees on these other two tickets, but since I never received even the original ones, how would I know? I didn't even know to go to court to pay it in the first place.
Comment by slamwagon on September 9, 2010 at 8:10am
Your're kidding, right?

The city boots cars when parking citations or other traffic offenses are left unpaid or otherwise ignored. It's not like a bill, it's like a violation of city statutes, where it is the citizen's obligation to settle the matter.

There should be no sense of entitlement. Pay your tickets on time, or contest them in court and go your way. Don't pay on time, do not take time to visit metro court, suffer a warrant and/or the boot. It's simple civics.

You are the one that must be kidding...

See comments above (Wade Patterson, followed by Amy).
Comment by cathyray on September 9, 2010 at 8:28am
bummer! please keep us updated on this one . . .
Comment by the hand model on September 9, 2010 at 8:48am
It's "Berry Time!"
Comment by Wade Patterson on September 9, 2010 at 8:55am
Rudolfo, you are entitled to your opinion ans perspective on this. You don't need to agree with me or believe that I do not recall being notified of the ticket (and I just recently renewed my insurance last month and nothing about this came up. Not this time or any time in the last 8 years). But I certainly did not post this piece with the expectation that everyone would be on my side. Its all good.

I have received other tickets that I did pay and I don't mean to imply that I am a perfect citizen. I will point out, though, that in other City departments, it is policy to notify/remind violators of citations. If you are in violation on your property, for example (for weeds, trash in the front, etc.) you are notified twice before any action is taken. Not an identical situation, but still...

I think my main shock is that it seems like the City has stepped up this activity to gather needed revenue and I support that, recognizing that he City is in a very difficult financial situation. However, it seems to me that it would be much more cost effective for them to send out notifications first - like a collector. If they collected 50% of the past due tickets by this method and then booted the rest, it would still cost much less than booting everyone. My reasoning here is that it is much less expensive to pay for office worker time than two (and it requires two officers to do the job by law) in the field. Not only are you paying twice as many people, but the insurance costs for people in the field is much higher than those in an office as they are at increased risk of injury.

Anyway, thanks for the support and the criticism too. That's what a public forum is all about.
Comment by statler and waldorf on September 9, 2010 at 8:56am
Comment by once banned twice shy on September 9, 2010 at 10:02am
but rather point out the silliness of thinking that one should get a bill in the mail for alleged misdemeanors.

Actually, what you get in the mail is not a "bill," but a notice that your ticket has been unpaid and that if you do not pay it within 5 days (going on memory here), a warrant will be issued. The notice includes a handy envelope in which you can send your money to avoid the warrant. That's something called "due process" and is also something some of us learn about in civics.

As for revenue, why don't the cops target all the jerks who park in bike lanes? They'd make money hand over fist on streets all over town...
Comment by slamwagon on September 9, 2010 at 10:20am
Chicken or the egg...


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