Saturday, October 04, 2008

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way : For jurisdictions that treat all red light camera tickets, toll violations and parking citations as civil penalties, it does not matter who was behind the wheel when the alleged infraction occurred. Under civil procedures, the vehicle's registered owner is automatically responsible for paying once an accusation is made, regardless of individual guilt. But if the general public were to follow the example set by Travis County employees as revealed on Tuesday, fewer motorists would bother paying citations mailed by the state of Texas or the city of Austin.

"There are some employees using county vehicles on a toll road and they are not paying the tolls themselves," the county's executive manager for transportation, Joe Gieselman, said. "Therefore the toll agency sends the county the bill because they go search the license plate and sure enough Travis County is the title holder and, voila, we have the toll is not being paid. And none of these departments have budgets or authorization to pay tolls."

The problem, however, extends far beyond toll skipping. Over the past four years, county employees have been blowing through red lights and parking in handicapped zones. County law enforcement vehicles have been nabbed for parking in tow-away zones. In total, the county has racked up $10,000 in unpaid parking fines with Austin, and that city now wants its money. After the city began booting county vehicles to encourage those officials to pay up, the county commissioners court scheduled a meeting to discuss the issue.

1 comment:

Jim said...

I used to be a deputy sheriff in Bexar County, Texas (San Antonio). When we had to park county vehicles downtown we often parked illegally and were ticketed by the San Antonio PD. Once a month the office would gather the tickets, take them to the PD and they'd do whatever magic needed to cancel them. Down town parking was a bear and the county wouldn't reimburse for parking fees so we parked where we could. When you consider two deputies on different shifts made 30 to 40 stops a day, 5 days a week and received tickets for about half of them you can get an idea of the volumn we generated in a month's time. Neither the sheriff nor the PD ever complained but neither tried to work out a better system.