Money, Money, Money

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Money, Money, Money

From Roving Reporter Peter Guest

JVH over often comments on the seeming inability of cities in the USA to collect parking fines. Indeed he has on more than one occasion pointed the finger at cities that are trying to divest themselves of apparently underperforming parking operations when millions of dollars are owed in uncollected fess and penalties. We have the same problems this side of the pond but here the approach is rather different and I suspect a little more effective.

When a ticket is issued if it isn’t challenged it remains due and eventually is registered as a debt in the court. At this point it passes to bailiffs for collection. Bailiffs have the power to collect the debt, usually by seizing property from the offending driver and selling it to pay the fine, although surprise, surprise when faced with the choice of paying the fine or seeing their car or television going down the road most “can’t pay, won’t pay” hold outs suddenly find their credit card. One of the nice features of the bailiff’s powers is that they can not only collect the fine but can also collect the cost of collecting the fine meaning that drivers who gave a £60 fine the finger can six months later find a bailiff standing at the door offering the choice of paying £600 or losing their car.

The system is far from perfect but for those wanting to play silly games the system just sometimes comes back and bites them. American law has as its base English Common law and bailiff’s powers are from common law. Perhaps for some of your bigger cities it’s time to look again at some of your older laws?

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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