So a while back I told you guys about the change this year from 30 to 7 days to register a vehicle purchased from a private party. That law is ridiculous, but that's not the point of this post.
Today I was going to run by during lunch to pay the fine but I was curious about he amount and noticed the online option on the ticket. This was a Norcross city ticket and they've partnered with a company to create http://www.ticketfastpay.com
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;. I knew this type of fine was generally $50-100. I went to ticketfastpay and was shocked to find the fine was $210. That just didn't seem right, even minus the $10 convenience fee for paying online (that alone seems exorbitant, but whatever). The code section I violated listed on the ticket was 40-2-20. I googled "code Georgia" and found the current version on Justia.com. It states the fine in the last section, "... punished by a fine not exceeding $100.00."
I then went to the Norcross municipal website
to see what it said about fines. They have a link to the same Justia.com copy, and also have this tidbit on their page:
"The fine amounts are set by the Judge and are based on surveys of fine amounts held by local municipalities. "
Well.. I don't know why he's checking other municipalities, but it seems to me he should check the law FOERST. I can kind of understand keeping things on par with other local cities, but still.
At that point I'm confused, and a little angry, but decide to calmly call the courthouse for clarification because I certainly don't know the full framework of State Law + Municipal law. The lady I speak to doesn't' know, but says the police department can explain the codes and I ask her to transfer me.
On the phone with the police department, I'm told that they don't deal with fines, just enforcement of the code and he points the finger back at the court. The runaround is never fun, but I immediately realize he's right and it IS the court I need to talk to.
So I call the court back and this time it's a different lady and I explain my question again, basically, "They fine you are giving is $200. The state code says the fine is not to exceed $100. Is this a State fine plus a municipal fine on top of it, or what? Does it have something to do with being pulled over within city limits?". She asks me to hold and when it picks back up there is a gentleman on the line.
He said the best thing to do is to come into the court and talk to the judge, but I tell him I'd much rather pay now than take time off work, but I just want to make sure everything is on the up and up. He says the judge isn't available directly and comes in on court days, but he would try to get in touch with him and get back to me, but couldn't promise (my court date is Tuesday so I made my urgency clear).
To my pleasant surprise I got a voicemail message back from him very promptly. He said he spoke to a court administrator and the fine had been entered incorrectly into the system, that it is actually $100.
I went online to pay again and it was already adjusted to $105. Now it's only a $5 convenience fee... why should a convenience fee like this be a percentage? Anyway... I paid it.
So... stand up for yourself and keep them in check! I'm really curious how long it's been wrong. Was it just my ticket, or everybody with that type of violation? Maybe it's all fines across the board, speeding, parking, etc. Maybe it was an honest mistake. Maybe it's mass corruption due to budget pressures or even sheer greed. Maybe it's even related Courtware, the company selling the ticketfastpay service. Maybe the judge surveyed other municipalities and they are also overcharging on fines. Maybe there should be an iTeam investigation.