Indiana: City Threatens $2500 Fines for Challenging Traffic Tickets

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper

Motorists who receive minor parking or traffic tickets in Indianapolis, Indiana are being threatened with fines of up to $2500 if they attempt to take the ticket to court. A local attorney with the firm Roberts and Bishop was so outraged by what he saw in Marion County traffic court that he filed a class action suit yesterday seeking to have the practice banned as unconstitutional.

“The deck is stacked against the motorist,” lawyer Paul K. Ogden wrote. “To penalize that person for seeking justice seems wrong. I know it is done for the purpose of discouraging baseless challenges to tickets and clogging the docket, but in the process you are also penalizing people who have a legitimate defense and want a chance to present it to the court.”

The city made explicit the threat of additional fines for challenging parking tickets in a November 30 press release announcing a deal between Indianapolis and a private firm, T2 Systems, to hand over operations of a parking ticket court to increase municipal income.

“Using Six Sigma process improvement strategies, it is estimated that under this program the city may collect an additional $352,000 to $520,000 in parking citation revenue over the next 12 months,” the city press release stated. “If citations are not paid prior to their scheduled hearing, the city may request a fine of up to $2500 per citation. Upon receiving a judgment for an unpaid citation, individuals responsible could be subject to collections actions or having their vehicle registration suspended.”

In traffic court, Judge William Young has been making good on the threats by routinely siding with police officers in disputes and imposing fines of up to $500 on anyone who challenges a moving violation ticket, no matter how minor, and loses. Those who pay without going to court do not face this extra fine.

“Unfortunately what you have happen a lot of times is that judges aren’t particularly worried about whether what they’re doing may be violating the law as the odds of someone ever appealing a $400 traffic ticket is remote,” Ogden wrote. “I see it all the time. Trial judges flouting the law knowing they are unlikely to ever be challenged on an appeal because the litigants can’t afford it.”

Ogden is specifically representing three motorists affected by court policies. Toshinao Ishii received a ticket for driving 63 MPH in a 55 zone in February. Had he paid the ticket without challenge, the fine would have been $150. After Judge Young sided with the police officer in court, Ishii was fined $550. Motorist Matthew Stone was told by his doctors not to wear a seatbelt over his chest as it could damage his cardiac pacemaker. He received a $25 ticket for not wearing a seatbelt. After court officials threatened Stone with a $500 fine, he gave up his intention of challenging the citation. Adam Lenkowsky, who did not receive a ticket, attempted to attend a traffic court proceeding on September 23, 2009. He was barred from the court, despite the state constitutional requirement that court proceedings be open.

Ogden argues the court’s practices in the first two cases violate the excessive fines clause of the state constitution as well as the clause requiring that “all penalties shall be proportioned to the nature of the offense.”

[courtesy: thenewspaper.com]

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  • Loverofcars1969 Loverofcars1969 on Dec 11, 2009

    Stop crying lol. Porschespeed hit it right on the head. These cops were hired no doubt with a "get tough on crime" mandate. Well guess what getting shot at sucks but ticketing you nice good people going to and from work is great business. No fuss no muss. I am currently in Indiana and the worst thing about this place is they have the speeds for the roads set from 10 to 15 miles to slow.

  • Porschespeed Porschespeed on Dec 11, 2009
    You would do that by this nefarious method known as “voting” whereby you and citizens who agree with you can, by legal trickery, remove the current government and institute one that’s more to your liking. You will get a new bunch that will be corrupted by the same forces that ruined the last bunch. You were being tongue-in-cheek, weren't you? Unless you are part of the money that runs that council/city/state/country your vote is window dressing. The powers that be will do what they want as long as it serves them. They will ignore any law they wish, and get away with it until it bumps into someone else, who has more power. That's politics American style. Welcome! Well guess what getting shot at sucks but ticketing you nice good people going to and from work is great business. True policework can be dangerous at times, but in the big picture (across the whole country) it is about #20 on the list of dangerous jobs (that which get you dead). It is more dangerous to be a landscaper or a steelworker than it is to be a cop. Or a fireman. Data from the BLS . http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.t03.htm
  • Rando [h2]Coincidentally, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan is more than $41k as well -.-[/h2]
  • Ajla "Gee, wonder why car (as well as home) insurance rates are much higher in places like Florida..." Severe weather is on the list but even if a benevolent genie reverted the climate to circa 1724 I think FL would still have high cost. Our home insurance rates have increased 102% since 2021 and I don't think weather models account for that much of a change in that period. Florida's insurance assignment of benefit regulation meant that it had ~80% of the country's of the insurance lawsuits on ~12% of the nation's claims and litigated claims can be expensive to insurance companies. The state altered some regulations and is having some success on getting more companies back, even with the severe weather risks, through relatively bipartisan efforts. With car insurance just beyond the basic "Florida" stuff, the population increase of the past few years is overwhelming the roads. But, I think the biggest thing is we have very low mandated car insurance levels. Only $10K personal injury and $10K property damage. No injury liability needed. And 20% of the state has no insurance. So people that actually want insurance pay out the nose. Like I commented above my under/uninsured coverage alone is 2.5x my comprehensive & collision.
  • Juan Let's do an 1000 mile drive and see who gets there first.
  • Eliyahu CVT needed for MPG. Outback is indeed the legacy of, err, the Legacy.
  • Gayneu I can comment on these. My wife always thought the Minis were "cute" so I bought her a used 2005 (non-S, 5 speed) for one of her "special" birthdays. She loved it and I kinda did too. Somehow a hole developed in the transmission case and the fluid drained out, ruining the car (too expensive to fix). A local mechanic bought it for $800.We then bought a used 2015 S (6 speed) which we still have today (80k miles). Her sister just bought a used S as well (also manual). It has been a dependable car but BMW-priced maintenance and premium gas hurts for sure. I think the earlier generation (like in the article) were better looking with cleaner lines. The 2015 S rides too stiff for me (Chicago roads) but is a hoot on smooth ones. It does seem to shift weird - its hard to describe but it shifts differently from every other manual I have driven. No matter how hard I try, so won't let go of her Mini.
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