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Pay that ticket or you can’t register your car

Last month, we heard that the city was considering an ordinance that would let the state deny a vehicle registration based on an unpaid red light camera ticket. City Council has now passed that ordinance.

Now, if a driver does not pay after 85 days, the city can get the Texas Department of Transportation to put a “hold” on the vehicle owner’s registration that cannot be cleared until the ticket is paid.

“It’s not complex,” Mayor Bill White said. “If you get a citation when you’re running the red light, then you pay the citation. Or, if you think there’s some mistaken identity, then you go and contest it. It’s pretty simple. But what you don’t have an option to do is just ignore the citation.”

Council members Michael Sullivan, Jolanda Jones and Ronald Green opposed the measure, although numerous others had questions about how effectively it could be implemented and whether it would add a burden to vehicle registration for those who may not be aware they were ticketed.

Sullivan said he was skeptical of the ordinance for a number of reasons: what if a couple goes through a divorce and the notice of a ticket goes to the wrong address? What if someone gives away a vehicle as a gift? He also cast doubt on whether the process would be fluid, given that it involves the city, a private contractor that administers the cameras, the county, which handles vehicle registration renewals and the state, which will apply the holds.

I understand Council Member Sullivan’s objections, but I still think this is a reasonable step for the city to take. Surely if we were talking about any other kind of violation that had been ignored, it would be uncontroversial. While I am certain there will be some problems – there always are, with any system – I don’t expect there to be too many. If there are, it should be fixable. I don’t think the possibility of problems is enough to make this unacceptable.

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4 Comments

  1. John says:

    Massachusetts has done with this with traffic tickets and parking tickets for at least 20 years. Shockingly enough, the tickets get paid and people’s lives aren’t ruined by the hassle of it.

  2. Drew W says:

    Perhaps John has a point. Maybe we should do this with all parking tickets and other civil fines — statewide. Perhaps even on a federal level. If you don’t pay child support, etc… no registration for you. If you jump bail… no registration for you. I’m not sure to what extent we’re doing this now, but may as well not limit it to red-light cameras.

  3. john pitts says:

    These comments are so typical of a weak minded thinker. Guys, how much Government are you willing to tollerate. What is next, thought control police, or video cameras in everyones house, watching and listening? Read the book 1984.

  4. Susan Miller says:

    I want to buy a vehicle on the weekend, so I will be taking care of registration on the first working day available. What if there are any outstanding red light tickets against the vehicle? Will I be able to transfer the title without the seller and not be responsible for these fines?