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The Flying Dutchman
12-19-2006, 07:23 PM
Can you get sent to jail in America for unpaid parking tickets?

Bryan Ekers
12-19-2006, 07:37 PM
Definitely for moving violations, probably for a sufficient number of parking violations. Failure to pay tickets can sufficiently annoy the courts that they issue a "traffic warrant" for you, and if you fail to show up in court, then you can be arrested. A Google on "traffic warrant" will turn up all kinds of info which shows the considerable amount of variability by venue.

State Senator Adair of New Mexico arrested for failing to appear in traffic court for moving violation (http://www.krqe.com/Video/expanded.asp?RECORD_KEY%5BVideo%5D=ID&ID%5BVideo%5D=4261) (news video)

Patty O'Furniture
12-19-2006, 07:42 PM
DC considers parking fines as a debt and will refer it off to a collections agency after a certain amount of time has passed & you still haven't paid. I think at that point the city basically writes you off and that's the end of that relationship - until it comes time to renew your vehicle registration.

Bryan Ekers
12-19-2006, 08:19 PM
I should add that the more likely outcome of multiple unpaid parking tickets is a "parking warrant" issued against your car which means it can be impounded or "booted" on sight (or, as Patty pointed out, the whole thing turned over to a collection agency). It wouldn't surprise me if a sufficiently annoyed judge somewhere decided to crack down on scofflaws and had one arrested, though.

DrDeth
12-19-2006, 09:31 PM
It depends on your juristiction, but AFAIK, not in CA, and I doubt if in many- if any- other states.

Moving Violations- not for just so many tickets, AFAIK, but for "Failure to appear" and more serious violations like DUI, Vehicular Manslaughter, Lveaing the Scence, and so forth. But not for even 20 speeding tickets although enough speeding tickets will get your license suspended- and driving without a license can net you jail time.

Parking tickets aren't "crimes" as we think of the, they are Code Violations- they call for fines and perhaps even impoundment. Now sure, don't pay the tickets and your Registration here in CA will be withheld, and driving without valid registration is a more serious crime.

But not just for parking tickets alone (in CA at least).

don't ask
12-19-2006, 09:51 PM
In Australia (NSW at least) you used to be able to go to jail for a day or two and clear up all your parking and traffic fines without paying anything. It was quite a common practice. The government put a stop to it after some young guy with a couple of speeding fines was beaten to death by a hardened crim during his one day in jail.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
12-20-2006, 02:06 AM
In California you can go to jail for ignoring jaywaking tickets. I was once visiting somebody at the downtown L.A. jail -- long story, don't ask--and the person next to me in line was visiting someone who was doing three or four weeks for unpaid tickets.

I don't know if the offender gets incarcerated for the tickets specifically, or for the offense of blowing off the summonses. I suspect it's the latter.

t-bonham@scc.net
12-20-2006, 03:03 AM
In many states, this most commonly happens when you ignore parking tickets, and then continue to ignore the court-ordered fine letters, etc. until they issue a warrant for you, and then you get pulled over late at night for say, speeding. Since you have an outstanding warrant, instead of just getting a ticket for speeding, you get to spend the night in jail and see the judge in the morning. So you can spend at least one night, or a weekend, in jail for ignoring your unpaid parking tickets.

As far as actually sending a police officer out to your address to arrest you and take you to jail for unpaid parking tickets, I don't know of any jurisdiction that actually does that anymore. Not cost effective, when they can just send the debt to collections. Or just seize your income tax refund. They're interested in collecting those fines, after all, not sending you to jail. A person in jail generally costs them money!

And like Spectre said, your original ticket was for a parking violation, but your arrest & jail will be for ignoring the summons to appear in court, not paying court-ordered fines, etc. -- not a parking ticket.

Loach
12-20-2006, 12:12 PM
And like Spectre said, your original ticket was for a parking violation, but your arrest & jail will be for ignoring the summons to appear in court, not paying court-ordered fines, etc. -- not a parking ticket.

In New Jersey you get a warrant issued for contempt of court NJSA 2C:29-9. Since it is not a serious offense you have the oppurtunity to pay through the mail without appearing in court. If you fail to pay then you are ordered to court. If you fail to follow that order then you are in contempt and a warrrant is issued. That is actually the case with all traffic violations, not just parking. The difference is the bail ammount. Bail is usually well under $100 for parking offenses (no insurance might be $1000). It is very rare that someone would not bail out and have to go to jail for any time at all. The bigger problem is that you will probably have your driver's licence suspended at the same time which is a much bigger pain in the ass. YMMV of course. You may be put in front of a firing squad in Montana for all I know.

zamboniracer
12-20-2006, 12:20 PM
This was a plot point in the current Will Smith movie, The Pursuit of Happyness , that bugged me as unrealistic Hollywood treatment. In the movie Smith's character had to spend the night in jail not only because he had unpaid parking tickets, but when he was arrested and went to pay the fines with a check they put him in jail overnight until the check cleared.

According to Pliny
12-21-2006, 06:14 PM
Unpaid tickets usually include failure to appear when summoned.
Yes, you can go to jail for that. Especially if they stopped you for something else, like weaving but couldn't get a breath test done then they will haul you in on the failure warrants.

gonzomax
12-21-2006, 06:49 PM
In Detroit you can go to traffic court and they generally cut down the amount you owe if you have a good story. If you get nailed for anything else they will not let you go til everything is satisfied. They love community service. Free labor has made Michigan cities predators.

AllanD
12-21-2006, 08:22 PM
What you really go to jail for is usually either "failure to appear" or "Contempt of court", not specifically for the parking tickets.

It all depends on how badly they want to collect their revenue....

AllanD

DrDeth
12-22-2006, 02:38 PM
Many of you seem to be confusing a Moving violation ticket where (at least here in CA) you do make a promise to appear, and a parking ticket, where there is (at least here in CA) no such promise to appear.

mks57
12-22-2006, 04:04 PM
Many of you seem to be confusing a Moving violation ticket where (at least here in CA) you do make a promise to appear, and a parking ticket, where there is (at least here in CA) no such promise to appear.

It depends on the state and locality. I know people who were arrested on bench warrants for unpaid parking tickets. They were given the choice of paying all of their tickets or going directly to jail.