MORRIS – People violating the city of Morris' parking regulations repeatedly are now risking suspension of their driver's license.
The Morris City Council approved a new ordinance Tuesday that if a person has 10 or more unpaid parking tickets, Morris police can request the Secretary of State's Office to suspend their driver's license.
Currently, if a person receives a parking ticket they have 14 days to pay the $10 ticket. If after two weeks it is not paid, they are notified the fine goes up to $60. The violator also has the opportunity to fight the ticket in court.
"If the person doesn't pay the fine or show up to the court date issued, there is a judgment against them," said Morris police Chief Brent Dite after the meeting.
This process is done repeatedly up to 10 times. With the approval of the new ordinance Tuesday, after the 10th ticket, the city can send a letter to the Secretary of State to have their license suspended until all the fines are paid to the city.
Although this is not an abundant problem for the city of Morris, it is not unlikely for a violator to have 10 unpaid tickets, Dite said. This many unpaid tickets is equivalent to $600 owed to the city.
Once a person reaches 10 unpaid parking tickets, they will receive another notification stating that if he or she does not pay the fines, the city will notify the Secretary of State to have their license suspended. They are also offered another hearing opportunity to challenge the allegations.
"It's a good tool to give incentive to pay the parking tickets and get the license back," said City Attorney Scott Belt, during the Judiciary and License Committee meeting held before city council.
This hearing is conducted by a hearing officer appointed by the mayor. Mayor Richard Kopczick said during the committee meeting that he is looking into appointing someone internally to this job.
The violator also will be given the opportunity to request an administrative hearing with the Secretary of State.
Once the fines are paid, the chief of police will send another letter to the Secretary of State stating the money owed is paid and the suspension can be lifted. The reinstatement of the driver's license has to be done by the Secretary of State.
"I think its a great thing," said Alderman Randy Larson during the council meeting. "When I was on Judiciary and License we tried to upgrade the system. People are still not listening so I think this is the right thing to do."
In 2011, the city started a new citation program that raised the fine. Previously the city's fine for a parking violation was $5, if it was paid in 48 hours, and it went to $25 after that.
But it was no longer deterring people.
So in 2011 it raised the parking fine to $10, if it's paid in 14 days, and then to $60 after the two weeks. At that time, the process was changed to include a hearing process and so people could just pay their fines at the Municipal Services Facility or by mail. Previously, they had to go to court to pay the fine or fight the ticket.