Cash Cow—Dismissed Motor Violations, But You STILL Pay Court Fees of $35!

[C]ommunities also are cashing in on traffic tickets.

Is it me...or does it seem that  “…communities also are cashing in on traffic tickets. Johnston, one of the most ticket-prone communities, generated a total of $446,560 in revenue. But that money is often split with the state. Take another example: Warwick, which produced in $238,609 in revenues from tickets, but was able to keep only $75,053 of that for itself, while the rest went to state coffers…” [http://www.golocalprov.com/news/rhode-islands-speed-traps/  8/2011]

But while small Parking tickets revenues are a giant cash cow for the city and considering the State needs to generate money to offset the budget, it should come as no surprise…but it DOES!  Here’s why…

[http://www.golocalprov.com/news/parking-tickets/ a  9/2011 ]    “category five fiscal hurricane,” they’re also worried their customers will be scared away, especially from downtown.

According to Jennifer Ortiz, who owns Extreme Cuts on Westminster Street, the city never informed businesses that it was going to start enforcing Saturday parking laws. She said she wasn’t aware until she received a ticket herself last weekend.

“There were no notifications, nobody knows what’s going on,” Ortiz said. “Being a business owner, you’d think they would tell me. You never know when they’re going to be giving tickets. It’s supposed to be 8am to 6pm, but you never know.”

Ortiz said her main concern is that on Saturdays, downtown is already quiet and if the city is going to be tagging more cars, many of her clients will search for other options.

“People that come to me on Saturdays come because they don’t want to deal with the craziness of the city during the week,” Ortiz said. “What’s the point of Saturday now?”

While I must say I love the Solar Powered concept of these payboxes and support GREEN thinking, how 21st century meets me the 40-something mom shows me that I am challenged on how to work these PAY BOXES?  Here is a great video on what I'm talking about in this attached news report:  http://www.theindychannel.com/news/27826018/detail.html (it is also shared that they offer Ambassadors to help pay the Pay Boxes, often found walking around and are available to help you).  I saw nothing of this in Providence.  Too bad they don't have a tutorial on the machine for "Dummies" or an "App" to ask in Providence.

Did you know, if you are working in an office building, and let's say you park your car on the street somewhere, yet you're at the top of one of these buildings, you can use your cell phone to … add time," – Very Cool!


To Raise Money, Providence Plans to Issue More Parking Tickets
The Providence Journal  (http://www.parking.org/publications/ipinsider-e-newsletter/may-10,-2011/parking-in-the-news.aspx )
May 1, 2011

To generate additional revenue, parking-enforcement officers will step up their efforts to ticket cars parked at expired meters or beyond posted time limits, Mayor Angel Taveras' administration announced Wednesday.

According to a news release, the parking regulations will be enforced from Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Posted one-hour and two-hour parking limits will be enforced and drivers will have to feed the meter during the posted enforcement times.

Fully enforcing the city's parking ordinance has the potential to generate much-needed new revenue, the release said. Last year, parking meters generated $1.3 million, the administration said, and the city is losing at least 35 percent of its meter revenue annually due to under enforcement.

According to the release, full enforcement was made possible, in part, by the city's recent agreement with Public Employees Local 1033, which will create flexible work schedules for parking-enforcement officers without additional overtime. In the past, the city did not issue parking tickets on Saturdays and weekdays after about 3 p.m. to avoid overtime costs that would exceed the income generated by parking enforcement.

Drivers don't need to carry quarters in their pockets: the city offers a smart card that can be used to pay meters. The ProvPass parking card is available in $10 and $20 denominations. Users swipe the card in the meter when they arrive and when they leave. The meter calculates the amount of time used and deducts the appropriate amount from the card.

The ProvPass can be purchased at City Hall, the Public Safety Complex or at the downtown AAA office. In May, the city will expand and promote the program to make the cards more readily available.  (This is a great alternative too)

Does anyone know when or where it states in the law that if you were speeding or found of a parking violation, you fight it and prevail....WHY do you have to pay for $35 in Court Fees??????  This is just wrong! 

We hear of quota's and the like on pulling the innocents over and I realize this is not everyone, although town's like Johnston seem to come to mind, along with Pawtucket.  Recently I was rewarded with a $25 parking ticket, and if I don't pay within 14 days it goes up to $75.  Better than the credit card companies interest rate and 30 day collection.  Very impressive ~ NOT!

I took pictures as I often do when I know I am right and know the ticket was not justified.  BAM!!!  I quickly remembered from a previous battle, that if I do fight this and win, I still have to pay Court Fees of $35.  Well, this Polish girl learned something the first time and I am sending in my SCAM of a parking ticket for $25, and saving myself $10 plus aggravation. 

What has your experience been?  Do you think this practice is fair?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Manifold Witness August 15, 2012 at 11:44 PM
RIGL § 31-41.1-7 Application for dismissal based on good driving record. – (a) Any person who has had a motor vehicle operator's license for more than three (3) years, and who has been issued traffic violations which are his or her first violations within the preceding three (3) years, may request a hearing seeking a dismissal of the violations based upon the operator's good driving record. (b) Upon submission of proper proof that the operator has not been issued any other traffic violation within the past three (3) years, the charge shall, except for good cause shown or as otherwise provided by law, be dismissed based upon a good driving record; provided, that the operator pay a thirty-five dollar ($35.00) administrative fee for court costs associated with the dismissal. (c) The traffic tribunal may not dismiss a charge pursuant to this section after six (6) months from the date of disposition. For purposes of this section, a parking ticket shall not constitute a prior violation. (d) The following violations shall not be dismissed pursuant to this statute: (1) Any violation within the original jurisdiction of superior or district court; (2) A refusal to submit to a chemical test of breath, blood or urine pursuant to § 31-27-2.1; (3) Any violation involving a school bus; (4) Any violation involving an accident where there has been property damage or personal injury; (cont.)
Manifold Witness August 15, 2012 at 11:45 PM
RIGL § 31-41.1-7 (cont.) (5) Any speeding violation in excess of fourteen miles per hour (14 m.p.h.) above the posted speed limit; (6) Any violation involving child restraints in motor vehicles pursuant to § 31-22-22; (7) Any violation committed by a holder of a commercial license as defined in § 31-10.3-3 or any violation committed in a commercial motor vehicle as defined in § 31-10.3-3 by an operator who does not hold a commercial license. (e) If the charge is dismissed pursuant to this section, records of the dismissal shall be maintained for a period of three (3) years. (f) The judge or magistrate shall have the discretion to waive court costs and fees when dismissing a violation pursuant to this section, with the exception of the mandatory thirty-five dollars ($35.00) administrative fee provided for in § 31-41.1-7(b). Also see RIGL 8-18 et seq & Individual municipal courts listed – RIGL 45-2. Barrington will probably have a municipal court soon.
Suzanne Arena August 16, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Thank you Manifold! I am going to write to the Attorney General, this is stupid. Proven innocent and you still have to pay - makes NO SENSE! Then again, I still have a Massachusetts brain and haven't been here long enough I guess. Errrrr
Manifold Witness August 16, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Pawtucket runs a municipal court. Oh boy do they! It meets a couple times a week. They churn hundreds of people through each week. One day, almost all (all but about 3 people) had a clean driving record & "only" paid the court costs. The judge takes the bench and starts YELLING at people right out of the chute. That's a little judge trick - the yelling doesn't show up on the transcript and most of the "little people" don't have the back bone to ask the judge: "For the record, your honor, will you please refrain from yelling?" Most of the people there were terrified. One poor lady could hardly stand up or speak as she approached the bench & the judge yelled at her even more! Most of the people are very, very happy to "get away with" "just" the court costs. Also, if you drive around Pawtucket, there are WAY too many traffic signs. It's almost as though they want to issue tickets. It almost like maybe they set traps. Yup...Pawtucket is bad, bad, bad. Barrington will probably have a municipal court soon.
Suzanne Arena August 16, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Pawtucket was also my ticket experience that opened my eye. I didn't wait until the Judge came in and talked to the Court Officer as I had my kids and he explained he would check on the good driving record and I could get off with that. He came back and said congrats you now only have to pay the $35 Court Fees and I said that's ABSURD! I will not, I said you mean to tell me no matter what, I still need to pay that $35? He smiled a crooked smile and said Yes ma'am that's the way it is. Then Johnston was the next City to pull this and the officer was snarky and rude. Granted I told him what I thought of him "giving me a deal" with nearly $200 for the speeding ticket he wrote me. Oh yes, it was Hartford Avenue and I was taking kiddies to see Santa. We were taking a left to get to Park and on the left hand side of the street was a Cop with a speeding gun and he was on his loud horn telling me to pull over as cars flew past me. WTF. I changed direction and crossed 2 lanes to get to him and around 11 other cars and other cops in some kind of speed trap (SCAM). He firmly told me license and Registration after I said "What exactly seems to be the problem???" He said you were speeding. WHAT? I was taking a left and the guy next to me flew by (similar to the Pawtucket ticket). He said just wait here. I was PISSED! WHERE O WHERE IS TIM WHITE and how come no one is investigating this? I am sending something out. I put it out there to Operation Clean Government.
Suzanne Arena August 16, 2012 at 11:57 AM
My X hit my arm for me to shut up. Absolutely NOT! I tried logic with a Cop that was meeting a quoto and scamming people to get our money. He handed me the ticket saying I was going 52 in a 35 mile hour zone. REALLY! But, he tried to calm me down (mind you, my kids are in the back and just learned a life lesson on police - not what I wanted them to think because I think so highly of Cranston cops) and I said OH RIGHT and more followed. He said "Lady, I'm doing you a favor and took $200 off the fine and lowered the speed you were really going, so you should be thankful!" What the Sam Hill is going on!! I went to the Johnston Municapal court which was PACKED like sardenes and it became apparent after listening to 14 people before me get up and claim "Good Driving Record", get dismissed and told the need only pay Court Fee's of $35. My turn and got up and I told the Judge this is an outrage and you and the City are cheating all of us...blah blah blah. I got a few yeah's and sighs, but the Judge was unmoved and said okay...now go pay your $35. I wrote a letter as I said I would the the previous Attorney General. It yielded no response and I has other things to focus on. Let's EXPOSE THEM, because it isn't right. I will see if I can post in Barrington as you keep mentioning it will be opening there.
TAMORI August 16, 2012 at 12:39 PM
"Cash Cow." Interesting. Here’s and idea. How about deputizing RIBTA agents and give them authority to issue speeding tickets just on the Sakonnet River Bridge (and/or approaches) and 100% of the revenue from those fines goes toward bridge maintenance? Be VERY strict about it! Let the speeders/law breakers pay for the maintenance. Could it offset the necessity for tolls?
Ted Geisel August 16, 2012 at 01:04 PM
I've gotten 4 tickets in my life time. 3 of them were speeding tickets and they were handled at the government center here in South County. Each time I pleaded good driving record and I got off without having to pay anything. No court costs, nothing. The other time was a Narragansett parking ticket. I showed up with photos showing I wasn't deserving of the ticket, requested a trail and mentioned that I felt my right to a speedy trail had been violated as it had been 9 months just to get to this point. The judge dropped everything, no court costs. I guess the best way to avoid a ticket is not to speed. I do agree with some of the above posters that sometimes signs are put up or changed not for public safety but to generate revenue. However this seems to be what Rhode Islanders want. We elect the same people over and over again. The $35 dollar fee is just a tax. If you disagree with it maybe it's time to stop voting for people who tax and spend your money so freely?
A great family town August 16, 2012 at 01:19 PM
I believe some of you are missing something. The $35 is if you use your good driving record. By using the good driving record you are essentially admitting that you were speeding and instead of paying the fine for speeding you are paying the $35 for going to court. If you feel you were given the ticket in error or were not speeding, then you can fight the ticket. If you are found not guilty the ticket is dismissed, no fees. When you use the good driving statute you are admitting guilt. If you don't want to pay $35 you can always pay the ticket. If it was in error fight it, if you don't like tickets then you can't break traffic laws. May not be the best solution but that is the way the system is.
Dave August 16, 2012 at 01:25 PM
So when you win,you lose.You might even incur more costs to fight the ticket.(gas,lost time from work etc).It's like a casino...the house always wins.
Suzanne Arena August 16, 2012 at 01:33 PM
It looks like I will have to call the Court House to inquire as to the how tickets are handled. Moved here from MA 10 years ago and never knew about the statute, until the Judge told me about it, and I used the "get out of jail card", however, I didn't know that you could still fight it and not pay anything. I still need to read the General Laws surrounding dismissal (nothing to do with Good Driving Record) and get back to you on this. I know I would have fought it to not pay a dime because I was right. I will take a justifiable ticket, but not one that isn't....hence the irritation. Thanks for your feedback.
Suzanne Arena August 16, 2012 at 01:34 PM
@ Dave - hysterical, so using that one!
Ted Geisel August 16, 2012 at 02:16 PM
This is another interesting law: "31-27-25 Ticket quotas prohibited. – (a) No state or municipal agency engaged in the enforcement of any motor vehicle traffic or parking laws of this state, or any local ordinance governing motor vehicle traffic or parking, may establish or maintain any policy, formally or informally, requiring any officer to meet a quota. "... I guess places like Warwick, Johnston or Pawtucket want you to believe that they don't have quotas. It's against the law and I'm sure they know it but it's okay to break the laws when it's convenient for them. Full Text: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/statutes/title31/31-27/31-27-25.HTM
Still Hope August 16, 2012 at 06:37 PM
I live in RI and spend most of my time in MA. The parking situation in RI, no matter the town, doesn't compare to most places in MA. Being a former Mass resident I'm surprised you are so thin-skinned about it. Also, be aware that many towns require you to move from a parking space after the max time expires. This isn't widely enforced, but now you've been warned. As far as traffic tickets go, you can't beat a good MA speed trap. This is a science in that state. The difference I've noticed in MA is the procedure of talking to the Magistrate. You think a judge yelling at will challenge your nerves? Try sitting in a small room with a court official who doesn't care and his buddy...the officer that pulled you over. A wink and a nod and they try to cut you a "deal". Many minor infractions can be handled via letter through the mail, If you are genuinely not guilty of the charge. If you'd like to try your hand, you need to pay the court fees. Like AGFT said above, many times if you are legit not guilty you owe nothing. However "Good Driver Statute" only gets you a deal, you still had to gum up the court room to use your freebie, so they charge you for adding to the situation. Here's a tip: know somebody.
Govstench August 18, 2012 at 10:18 AM
@Suzanne Arena, when you come to RI, there is really no justice. The courts are so tilted towards those that "know the system." Stay out of small claims court - you will be amazed at how many people that go to court with walkers, canes and wheelchairs, make such a sudden recovery after court is over. Providence has always been a nightmare for parking. No overnight parking anywhere and the meter police are all over the place to tag you for just running into an office for a minute.
Gary Morse August 18, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Rt 114 will soon become "Ca-Ching" highway when Barrington gets it's traffic court.
Concerned Citizen August 18, 2012 at 06:12 PM
You are completely misunderstanding this law. When you use your good driving record you are not "Proven innocent". You are admitting you are GUILTY. The state is then waiving the fine because you have not had other violations in the past 3 years. Its a gift - a freebee - and it does not hurt your insurance. The $35 court fee is a VERY small price to pay to invoke this benefit. If you plead NOT GUILTY and the judge finds you are truly not guilty there is no court fee. It makes perfect sense if you understand the law...
Dan D August 18, 2012 at 07:25 PM
so, you were speeding, not happy about being caught, plead guilty and used your good driving record to waive the violation and paid $35 for that privilege. instead of pleading guilty and NOT using your good driving record, which would have cost you $200 or whatever, plus $35, plus a 5 year hang on your insurance, no doubt costing you $50 a month... about $3000 over a 5 year period.
Suzanne Arena August 18, 2012 at 08:33 PM
The point I made was I WASNT speeding and was pulled over when I shouldn't have been x2 times this has happened to me. I was never told about the "Good Driving Statute" until I was in Court. I would have argued if I had known the first time. Several years later a second incident with a cop car parked engaged in talking to 2 men on the sidewalk. Kids were in back and I always slow down way under the speed limit (only half polish and know better), because I never if there are children, animals or what the situation is until I get closer. It's a one way 2 lane road and I am told by doctors office that they always are tagging people. Anyhow, he pulls me over after 2 cars have passed me on the right. He never even saw me! He just heard the radar go off and ASSUMED. Jack@ss. My 8 yr old spoke up and said it was the man next to us mommy was going slower than everyone cause she saw your car. He didn't care and gave it to me and I went to court and said to the Officer of the Court..."If I fight this and win, do I still have to pay the $35 court fee?" YES was his answer. So, he told me I was better off just paying the fee and using my Good Driving Record (which I now knew about). I see it as a SCAM. I am a 'Why Child', as such...I courisouly ask questions.
Suzanne Arena August 18, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Coming from Massachusetts, they do not believe in allowing cell phone usuage on the job here which is a BIG source of distraction. I have watched most of the younger officers with their heads down glued to their phone. I had this problem too and started to pull back because I was distracted from what was going on around me. I remember meeting an arrogant Providence Police officer that I told I can't stand many because they think their above the law and use the priviledge "like going thru a light and turning off the lights after" or "doing an errand while on duty", and he snuffed at that and 2 weeks later he was all over the T.V. for his dirty laundry. My point is, there are always those that stand out for walking over the line and give the good guys a bad rap. Until I get my answer from the courts, I cannot take an anonomous blogger's word, as your credentials to validate just giving out tickets knowing most people will not take a day off to fight in Court a $25 parking ticket. Anyone who knows me knows I believe and fight for principal, sometimes injuring my own leg...but, I'm slowly learning. I await to share the accurate statement.
EG Lurker August 18, 2012 at 09:17 PM
This whole thread is rambling - your article title talks about the dismissal of tickets, yet the entire article talks about the payboxes and ticketing happening downtown...so sticking to THAT topic: cry me a river for the business owners who weren't alerted of saturday ticketing - yet the signs display parking restrictions on saturday! just because providence PD has decided to enforce something thy've been ignoring up to now is no excuse for getting a ticket...if anything, congrats for not getting ticketed for so long!
Govstench August 19, 2012 at 12:07 PM
@EG Lurker - one of the biggest small business killers is the lack of on-street parking. Providence is struggling with going bankrupt and has turned to aggressive parking enforcement to help bring in more revenues. The consequence - business closures as people avoid the area. Whenever I go to my lawyer's office, he gives me free parking in the parking garage. I attempted to drop off some paperwork at his office (2 minute stop), my wife had to drive around the block when a parking cop came up from behind. That is over-aggressive. When she returned to pick me up, so did this car. When I used the "L" word, he took off.
Govstench August 19, 2012 at 12:12 PM
@Suzanne Arena - if you frequent that area or areas of agressive enforcement, you may have to invest in a small video camera and sit it on the dash board. If it has a date and time stamp on the video, it may be used for evidence if you challenge the offense. Unfortunately, the $35 court cost fee is the way the court stays "open for business." Towns are running out of money because they have always spent it like drunks. Now with this severe economy, they are resorting to these aggressive tackticks to recoup revenue.
Bob August 19, 2012 at 01:08 PM
My licence was suspended a couple of years ago because the traffic court judge forgot to ask me how I wanted to plea. The bailiffs do not allow you to say anything-it's the judges ruling. "Licence suspended for 30 days." A couple weeks later I was able to appeal the judges ruling, after paying $25 for a cassette tape which had recordings of the judges mistake, two Appellate judges immediately found his ruling to be inaccurate. I still had to pay court costs and the $25 for the cassette tape.
Dave August 19, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Good story Bob,crooks at the top get away with everything,little guy gets squashed like a bug.
Peter A. Filippi III August 24, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Suzanne, I’m running for mayor and if elected the days of endless violations will come to a halt as we consider alternatives in which we won’t have to right up anyone for minor violations to make payrolls, Republican Mayoral Candidate Peter A. Filippi III
Suzanne Arena August 25, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Exactly Bob, that's the point...you still have to pay! Stats, some people are saying they Judge or Court Appointee person can waive the Court fee....THEY DON"T. Maybe I don't smile as much as you do when I am inconvenience for the entire fiasco!
Suzanne Arena October 24, 2012 at 03:20 PM
I had a meeting last Friday with the Dir. of Spec Ed in Providence and 2 other parents were with me. We all put in quarters and carefully looked at the time. We came out with 10 minutes to spare and VOILA....a $25 ticket. Really crooked said Charlie Brown [you don't need to be a Brown Univ. scholar to figure this out!]


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