The Oxford Police Department (OPD) currently has 15,168 unpaid parking tickets remaining from 2011. These outstanding tickets amount to roughly $540,000 in lost revenue, according to Public Information Officer Sgt. Jon Varley. OPD employs several tactics to track down vehicles that have outstanding tickets, according to Varley.
Once an officer writes a ticket, he or she programs the license plate into his or her parking computer system. The department installs a license plate recognition device in each cruiser, and in its SUVs. The scanners can read 1,000 license plates per minute, and once the scanner hits on a plate with outstanding tickets it alerts the officer. The department will also send individuals to collection agencies for unpaid parking tickets, even if they do not live in Oxford. However, the department does recognize that it is nearly impossible to cash in on every unpaid ticket and it prepares for that with each year’s budget. “We know there is a small percentage that will end up not paying, whether its because the address attached to the plate is not the owner’s current address or someone simply does not pay, but we do prepare for a small percentage that will not be collected at all,” Varley said
Varley said as more and more students are driving instead of walking or riding the bus, more violations have occurred. Also, a large amount of the tickets were written for unpaid parking meters compared to vehicles parked illegally.
“Most students wait until they’re caught before they pay and others just forget until they get another ticket or a boot,” Varley said.
Numerous outstanding tickets usually lead to the department putting restrictive boots on cars found within the city to have unpaid violations.
According to Varley, the department starts administering boots after an individual has not paid for at least two tickets.
“It depends on what the violation is, whether it is a five or 25 dollar ticket, but we typically start putting boots on after two outstanding tickets,” Varley said.
These boots are extremely expensive for drivers, with each boot price increasing by $100 each time it is put on a repeat offenders car.
“It is initially $100 to take off a boot for the first violation, then moves up to $200 the second time and then $300 the third time over what could have been a $10 parking ticket,” Varley said.
For one student, having a boot put on his car made him think twice about not paying his outstanding tickets. Senior Marshall Beckwith received a boot in 2011 when he parked his car on Withrow Street. He came back to find a yellow boot on his front tire, which was accompanied by a sign posted on the drivers window. “It was this giant piece of paper that told me not to move my car because it was immobilized,” Beckwith said. “In order to have it taken off I had to pay my outstanding tickets plus the fee for the removal of the boot which ended up costing me hundreds of dollars. I thought I could hide from them and not pay my tickets, but there is no hiding.”
What other alternatives do students have for transportation around the city?
“If the buses were better I would definitely ride them more,” junior Madison Reiser said. “Bikes are also a good idea, but they are hard to keep on campus sometimes.”
Varley suggests students and citizens alike pay their tickets within due time to avoid boots and other harmful and expensive consequences.