Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Plan to fight a parking ticket? It could cost you

The city wants to sting motorists who go to court hoping to sweet-talk a justice of the peace into a lower parking fine.
City staff are recommending that everyone who goes to court over a parking ticket and is convicted be slapped with a $12.75 surcharge in a bid to reduce the city’s court costs and free up resources for more serious trials.
Also, in a surprise move, staff suggest the set fee for parking illegally in a disabled spot be dropped from $450 to $300 because the lower amount “will provide a sufficient deterrent effect, without being overly punitive.”
Each year the city issues about 2.8 million parking tickets to individuals and businesses. About 307,000 go to trial, with some drivers believing they are innocent and others hoping for a reduced fine or no-show by the officer.
Most motorists who go to trial are convicted and justices of the peace give most of them a break — on average slashing the cost on the ticket in half.
It’s difficult to predict how many motorists would be convinced by the surcharge to just plead guilty and send in payment, says a report going to the government management committee on June 28.
It notes “one court dedicated to parking ticket disputes has the capacity to handle approximately 30,000 trial requests per year, with annual operating costs of approximately $1 million per courtroom.”
Businesses, including couriers, Canada Post and soft drink firms doing deliveries, account for one-third of all parking tickets. Of those, two-thirds are from the same 20 companies.
One-quarter of all trial requests in 2010 came from “entities” that each submitted more than 50 trial requests, suggesting “a small group of entities (likely large firms with many vehicles) routinely request trials for all or a large proportion of the tickets they receive.”

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