Monday, September 19, 2011
Help Me Howard: Ticketed Twice
Odds are you have had a traffic ticket. Odds are you paid it, but what are the odds you could prove it four years later. Probably not very good, but that is what is happening to some South Floridians who are hearing from clerks offices years after they got a ticket. Is it legal? It's why one man called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When Marcus got out of high school in 2001, he was pretty good at racking up traffic tickets and since he was young he wasnt very good at paying attention to them.
Marcus Palmer: "Late payments, stuff lapsed they suspended my license. I was still driving around, had court dates at first I wouldnt go. I was just young back then I ended up getting older, wiser."
Wiser by 2007 when he went to court, paid all his tickets, went to driving school, got his license re-instated and started being a better driver.
Marcus Palmer: "No tickets, no infractions, no problems until this..."
This was a letter from a collection agency in Broward County.
Marcus Palmer: "Saying that I owe them money for citations that was paid in 2002."
The Broward Clerks Office had hired the company to get the $122 from Marcus for running a stop sign and speeding back in 2002. Just one problem...
Marcus Palmer: "Everything was paid years ago."
Marcus called the agency to find out why they were trying to collect for 9 year old tickets that he already paid.
Marcus Palmer: "They are saying they got the information from the Clerks Office so I contacted the Clerks Office, they are showing that it shows that its paid."
Marcus says common sense tells you he paid everything because the Division of Motor Vehicles re-instated his drivers license on January 4th 2007, and its valid today even though the collection agency claimed the state had been asked to suspend his license, which we discovered is not true.
Marcus Palmer: "Its really frustrating."
Marcus says its aggravating and irritating to be billed again for something that he already took care of.
Marcus Palmer: "Realistically its only hundred and twenty something dollars. Can I afford it? Yes, but it dont make sense to pay something that is already paid."
Well Howard, the collection agency is saying the Clerks Office told us you didnt pay the tickets. The Clerks Office told Marcus he paid the tickets. So how do you find out if you really owe the money?
Howard Finkelstein: "Marcus did the right thing if you get one of these contact the Clerks Office. If they cant explain why you owe the money or can't straighten it out, then ask them to set a hearing in front of a judge and let them prove to the judge that you owe the money."
I then contacted the Broward Clerks Office, it took two days to go thru the information to determine what happened. An official told me this case was "convoluted but the Clerks Office sorted it out."
Marcus did pay all his tickets in 2007 but when he finished traffic school, he was eight days late in turning in the certificate that showed he completed the class. That generated fines, late fees, forfeitures and a fee from the collection agency that today totals $122.80 for both tickets. They added if Marcus doesn't pay they will suspend his license.
Howard Finkelstein: "The Clerks Office can ask the state to do that and they will suspend your license. Always remember that government agencies have thousands of rules and regulations. If you ignore them, or miss their deadlines, it will cost you time and money and give you headaches."
Marcus says the records at the Clerks Office are wrong. That he turned in the certificate from traffic school on time and he says since four years have passed, he no longer has the proof he did everything on time.
Marcus Palmer: "We understand the Clerks Office might have a financial problem, but to come after regular taxpayers like us its rough I would like to see this stopped."
Patrick Fraser: "Now Howard says if you think the Clerks Office is wrong, its easy to go to court to get a judge to rule in your favor. But make sure you are right cause the judge cant make you pay court costs if you are wrong. And by the way, if you pay a ticket, stick the receipt somewhere so if they come back years later, you proof you paid."
Got violations you wish you could forget about? Ready to stand up and say thats the ticket? Contact us, we'll help and you dont have to repay us we're free, and worth that cost.