Vulgar messages and an irate public are hazards of Deborah Hess's pursuit of  delinquent fines
Vulgar messages and an irate public are hazards of Deborah Hess's pursuit of delinquent fines

Pay Up? Why Bother?

How can you avoid paying fines after receiving parking tickets? Let New Times count the ways. You can:

•change the name on your car's title and get a new tag. Even if the state has determined that you are delinquent, it will allow an ownership transfer to a spouse or trusted friend. With a different license plate on the car, enforcement officers can't tell that you are a ticket cheat.

•bribe a tag agency clerk. Parking violations bureau manager Deborah Hess contends that some people do this, but offers no evidence to support the theory. Hess can find no other explanation for the multiple license plate renewals that are granted despite a state order to block registration if fines are due. Slipping $50 to a clerk who makes minimum wage is a lot cheaper than paying a $1000 penalty.

•change your address and/or move from the state. A new abode forces the parking violations bureau to play detective. The agency's computers are generally able to trace drivers who move within Florida, but if you register your car in another state, you've left behind your unpaid citations. And the United States has no extradition treaty with other nations for parking tickets. "There is no way to collect from out of the country," Hess says.

•avoid municipal parking facilities. Enforcement officers work in government-owned garages, lots, and on the streets. They do not run tags of cars parked on private property.

•buy your car back at auction. If your wheels are towed and you haven't paid the fine, the parking violations bureau will auction your car. Your spouse or a trusted companion can then bid and register your wheels anew. After several months you take ownership, complete with a new tag free of parking tickets.

•avoid the meter maid. Every five years thousands of unpaid citations are purged from the violations bureau database because of a lack of computer memory. But be forewarned: The old tickets are not completely forgotten. New citations can refresh the courts' memory.

RELATED STORIES by Jose Luis Jiménez

"Ticket and Run," September 2

"Tickets to Fame," (sidebar), September 2


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