Q Why have I been getting letters about unpaid parking tickets from several years ago?
A Readers asked The Gazette why there has been a sudden uptick in people receiving notifications that they had unpaid parking tickets. People have noted being notified of tickets from 5, even 10 years ago.
The tickets that have recently gone out are legitimate and were sent by the Emporia Police Department.
Emporia Police Sergeant Lisa Sage said the department has kept all of its old records, including parking tickets. A change in record-keeping systems is what has prompted the sudden rise in notifications.
“The system we used in the past didn’t allow us to bill them,” Sage said.
“The main reason people are getting tickets now is, over the last two years we’ve been getting all of our records into this new system. That allows us to bill them once a year for all unpaid tickets.”
Residents who have unpaid tickets in higher amounts might begin receiving notices on a quarterly basis. If a single vehicle accumulates tickets valuing more than $100, the Emporia Police Department can boot or tow it at the owner’s expense.
Sage said the department does have carbon copies of the physical tickets on file from when the officer initially issued the citation.
“What it boils down to is, we’ve kept really good records,” she said. “The police department went through a lot of effort and research in getting the right system and getting all of these records into the system.”
Most parking tickets cost $5 or $10, but residents do have a manner of recourse if they want to challenge the ticket in court. Anyone wanting to do so can notify the Emporia Police Department that they wish to contest the ticket. The Emporia Municipal Court will then be notified and a court time and date will be scheduled. The vehicle owner will get a letter in the mail.
There is a court fee of $73 that is assessed unless the defendant is found not guilty. If the charges are dismissed, the court fee is waived.
For those who didn’t own the vehicle at the time the ticket was issued, or believes they received the notification by mistake, Sage encouraged them to call the police department.
“Give us a call or stop in and have a conversation with us about it,” she said. “We will be professional and be reasonable about it. We will answer any questions they might have and do everything we can for them.”
One common point of confusion among those who have received notifications, according to Sage, is that the tickets double in cost after 10 days of non-payment. She said several people have called the department and contested they had paid the cost of the ticket.
“We know you paid, and we have record that you paid, but if the payment was late, you would still owe $5 because the fine doubles after 10 days,” Sage said.
The non-emergency number for the Emporia Police Department is 343-4200. The station is located at 518 Mechanic St.
Editor’s note: This story is updated from a previous version which misstated the nature of court fees.