Criminal Law

Electronic Tracking Means Tight Spots for Drivers

As most drivers are painfully aware, it's very difficult to park downtown or business areas in most cities. Spots are rare, parking garages are overpriced, and there are annoying time restrictions resulting in the inconvenience of having to move your car every several hours. Most drivers have to either accept numerous parking tickets or avoid driving in downtown areas.

Two-Hour Parking Problem

In La Crosse, WI, parking is getting harder and harder. The downtown area has a two-hour time restriction on parking. In the past, policeman would use techniques such as marking a tire with chalk to keep track of the car's location and time. Most drivers figured that system out and would only move the car if there was chalk on the tire. As a result, spots were not emptying and parking was getting more difficult, leading to the complaints of many business owners.

The Solution

La Crosse police, aware of this maneuver, have replaced the chalk trick with a more advanced method to mark vehicles. They are using electronic, hand-held devices to monitor and track cars going over the parking time limit. With this machine, they can enter the license plate number and the time and position where each vehicle is parked.

This hand-held device goes even further than the old chalk on the tire trick. The city rules in La Crosse limit parking to only two hours a day on the same city block. Many drivers often times simply move their cars across the street or another spot close by. This new device keeps track of the car's location, preventing these types of tactics as well.

How Does This Machine Work?

This machine functions like an electronic parking meter. It comes equipped with a keyboard, screen and printer that can print a barcode on a traffic ticket. This makes issuing tickets easier and faster. It also enables police officers to better track cars that are extending their parking time.

The Positives

This machine makes the traffic cop's job easier. Also, downtown business owners have been asking for a better system to track cars that are parking over the time limit. Restaurants and stores are pleased with this change and hope it will free up parking spots for new customers.

In addition, the new system is more efficient. The new machine enables the police to type out the information for the ticket quicker and to better keep track of the parked cars, rather than the traditional time consuming task of manually filling in all of the information such as the date, the time, the parking location, license number, etc.

The Negatives

Many drivers are upset and complain about being ticketed without being "chalked" first. Along with this new system, came the all too common fee hike for overtime parking. Many criticize the state government for simply trying to raise the state's revenue through parking fines.

Parking Tickets Generally

Parking tickets are a form of a traffic ticket. There are two types of traffic tickets, moving violations, such as speeding, which occur when the car is moving and non-moving violations, which include illegal parking. In general, while there is a fine for both types of violations, non-moving violations will not add points to your driving record and won't increase your insurance payments. However, they can be pricey and add up quickly. While one parking ticket is not a big deal, if you've accumulated a large amount of unpaid parking tickets, a warrant can be issued for your arrest. Afterwards, you will need to pay the amount, as well as late fees and other charges, which will be much greater than the initial amount.

Fair Warning

The new device may be headed to your location next; if it isn't in use already. Paying heed to the parking rules in your area may keep you from paying numerous parking tickets. As for the traffic cops, their job just got easier.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • I moved from the city to the suburbs and haven't had my car in the city for years, but now I'm receiving computer-generated notices for parking tickets and fines for failing to pay. Is a lawyer's help going to be required to straighten all of this out?
  • I'm applying for a professional license, and the governing body for my profession checks to confirm that even small traffic violations, such as parking tickets, are paid. I have some old tickets that I think aren't accurate, so should I pay or risk consequences with my license?
  • What if an electronic system or tool for enforcing traffic laws and rules has defects - can an individual successfully challenge "the system," or is a legal challenge only possible if many people join efforts in a class action?
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