Unpaid Meter Tickets Can Give You the Boot.. and Tow

  • There are approximately 2,000 parking meters in Phoenix. All are enforced from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, including weekends and holidays. Phoenix has more than $9.8 million in unpaid parking fines, and lists more than 106,000 unpaid tickets, according to data from the Phoenix City Court. There are an estimated 4,193 drivers with three or more unpaid parking tickets, and 357 of those drivers owe more than $1,000 in fines. Although it sounds like consequences for an unpaid parking ticket is minor, a driver is up against some serious and potentially pricey penalties.

    Consequences of an Unpaid Parking Ticket

    So what exactly happens when you don’t fork over the cash for that unpaid parking ticket? Unpaid meter citations are a noncommercial traffic violation in Phoenix and if the Finance Department does not receive your payment within the first 50 days of the violation date, Phoenix city code requires that a “Parking Summons and Complaint” be issued by the Municipal Court to those named on the vehicle registration. On this Summons, you will find a court date, amount due, vehicle description, violation date, and the violation for which the vehicle was cited.

    After 50 days, if you fail to pay the amount due or do not appear in court on your appointed court date, a default judgment may be entered both for the fine amount and any supplementary fees, including those enforced by collection.

    Two unpaid parking tickets aren’t good, but once you reach three, circumstances change drastically.

    When You Get “The Boot”

    With three or more unpaid parking tickets in Phoenix, you could potentially have a mechanical device called a “boot” installed on your vehicle, thus preventing mobilization. To have the “boot” removed, you must take care of your unpaid meter tickets. If they are not paid by 5:00 p.m. that day, your car will be towed to prevent vandalism.

    Next, the Municipal Court sends you a “pre-boot” notice, and you have 21 days from the notice date to either pay your fines or request a hearing. If you don’t respond to this notice, the license plate of your vehicle will be placed on a list of vehicles suitable for “booting.” This list is then forwarded to the Police Parking Enforcement Unit; within 10 days after your vehicle has been “booted” and towed, the court notifies you by mail that your vehicle has been impounded.

    Once your car is located in Phoenix, the Parking Enforcement Unit notifies the Civil Traffic Division’s Central Files to determine if you’ve made any recent payments. If not, the Unit contacts the Department of Motor Vehicles to ensure that you are still the owner of the vehicle. If no payments have been made and you are found to be the lawful owner, a “boot” will be placed on your vehicle. It will be towed by 6 p.m. if it is not released by court action that same day.

    How To Avoid “The Boot” Consequences

    To avoid any of these consequences, it is always advised never to ignore your unpaid parking ticket. Always pay the full amount you owe by the date due, but no later than within 21 days of receipt of a “pre-boot” notice to avoid having your vehicle placed on the “boot” eligibility list. However, if you’re facing various traffic violations charges, consulting with a Phoenix criminal defense attorney may be necessary. Orent Law Offices can assist those who have outstanding traffic violations from parking meters or restricted parking. Get help before “the boot” becomes an option and call the firm today.