More than $193M owed in unpaid tickets, city officials say

More than $193M owed in unpaid tickets, city officials say

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The City of Memphis is owed millions of dollars. It’s not from unpaid taxes, but unpaid traffic or ordinance tickets.

Memphians have been ignoring paying traffic tickets for decades.

Parking tickets, moving citations and ordinance violation tickets should be paid to the City Court Clerk’s office.

However, new data obtained by WMC shows that’s not happening in high numbers.

“It's very striking, but then again it's a compilation of over 21 years of accumulated debt,” said Deputy Chief Court Clerk Walter Person.

Person says since 1999 there has been over $193 million in unpaid tickets that’s owed to the city.

“It works unless you get caught. So when you get caught you have to face the facts, these obligations are out there,” said Person.

Person says typically three or more unpaid parking tickets can result in your car being in danger of being towed, unpaid speeding tickets could lead to suspension of a driver’s license.

Fiscal year 2019 was the worst it’s been in 20 years. Last year there was more than $17.5 million in unpaid traffic tickets.

Person says there's a good reason for that.

Memphis has added lots of new ways to catch driving infractions such as the 15 new speed cameras in school zones across the city.

There are also longer parking meter hours.

Most of the money collected from tickets goes to the city’s general fund.

“If we received all the money obligations of the citizens to the city for these various infractions, it could result in reduction of tax rates potentially,” said Person.

He also says the money could go towards things like Pre-K or law enforcement.

The Clerk's office has a variety of programs to encourage drivers to pay up such as the “Drive as you pay” program or the Amnesty program.

The Amnesty program offers 50% off tickets 10 years old or older. The program runs from July 1 to Dec. 31.

The city is also gearing up for Restoration Saturday on March 28 at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church.

Various city officials will meet with citizens to figure out a plan to get tickets cleared off driver’s record.

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