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In Chicago, Decades-Old Parking Tickets Offer Drivers Few Options, But To Pay Up

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A parking ticket is frustrating--especially when you're not positive you ever did anything wrong. But when the ticket is nearly two dozen years old and you just discovered you owe the money, what are you supposed to do?

Marcy Fitzpatrick shared the story of a "notice of liability" she recently got in the mail from a law firm working for the City of Chicago. It stated that she owed $73 for a parking ticket she allegedly got outside her apartment in 1997.

CBS 2 started looking into possible solutions for Fitzpatrick and discovered that some jurisdictions have statutes of limitation for parking ticket debts. The City of Chicago is not one of them.

The city has, over the years, offered temporary amnesty programs. In late 2015, for example, drivers paid off parking tickets without late fees.

For part of 2018, in Philadelphia, motorists could pay off their recent parking tickets and anything before 2013 could be forgiven. If the drivers' only tickets were before 2013, they could pay $50 to have those forgiven as well.

But since no such offer currently exists in Chicago, Fitzpatrick may be out of luck. The city says they are happy to waive tickets when appropriate but it's up to the motorist to prove that it's unwarranted.

The letter states that the time for her to contest the ticket has passed, but at this point she can't remember whether she ever got that chance or whether she deserved the ticket.

"I definitely got tickets in that area. I paid some. And I fought some where the timing was off and so I should not have gotten a ticket. But I just don't have that information anymore," she said.

Fitzpatrick's story is not unheard of.

In 2015, CBS 2 reported on a woman who got a notice saying she had unpaid tickets and late fees from as far back as 1994.

The City of Chicago is already exploring several options for parking ticket reform.

In June, the City Clerk's office released a report with recommendations, including the possible implementation of a statute of limitations for ticket debt. But for now, that's just a recommendation.

The clerk's office says they are exploring the possibility of an amnesty program for late fees and back charges related to city sticker tickets.

As for parking tickets, city officials have not been discussing any potential future amnesty programs.



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